To the Editor:
College and university presidents are facing issues with budgeting, leadership, staffing, accountability, and enrollment, to name a few. To my knowledge and experience, traditional college and university presidents began as faculty members and rose through the ranks. Some are also former business leaders. Many have done a wonderful job; however, there is a group of professionals who may do an even better job: student-affairs educators.
Although there are some presidents who are former student-affairs educators, there should be more and more may even help solve the higher education issues discussed above. The following lists 15 reasons why student-affairs educators would make great college and university presidents. They are for student-affairs educators, search committees, and trustees to think about:
1. Student-affairs educators, if educated traditionally, actually study higher education.
2. Student-affairs educators have worked with budgets their entire career in the field.
3. Student-affairs educators understand that education takes place both inside and outside the classroom.
4. Student-affairs educators are used to networking and building professional relationships with campus, community, national, and international constituents.
5. Student-affairs educators are both educators and administrators.
6. Student-affairs educators are used to leading organizations and groups of people.
7. Student-affairs educators are involved with assessment and accountability at various levels: departmental, campus-wide, and through professional organizations.
8. Student-affairs educators value and are taught to focus their practice on difference among groups of people in higher education.
9. Student-affairs educators understand higher education from a historical perspective and its significance today.
10. Student-affairs educators are constantly involved with staffing and professional development at various levels: departmental, campus-wide, and through professional organizations.
11. Student-affairs educators understand what it takes to both enroll students and retain them.
12. Student-affairs educators know how to be flexible during crises.
13. Student-affairs educators engage in scholarship that informs practice in higher education.
14. Student-affairs educators are used to attending and running meetings; so communication is not an issue.
15. Student-affairs educators are trained to think outside of the box when working with organizations and people.
Henry W. Lewis III
Indiana University of Pennsylvania