Profile of American College Presidents


Every five years, the American Council on Education (ACE) conducts a survey among college presidents from all walks of life in higher ed: public/ private and two-year/ four-year institutions. According to ACE, the study “contains data on presidential demographics, search and selection processes, career trajectories, and the duties and responsibilities of college and university chief executive officers. For the first time, the report examines the views of presidents in three key areas: diversity and inclusion; state funding and political climate; and areas of importance for the future.”

ACE goes on to say that the “report provides a sobering look at the ongoing challenges of diversifying the ranks of the college presidency. The percentage of women holding the top job at colleges and universities stood at 30 percent in 2016, up just four percentage points from 2011. The percentage of minority presidents also saw only a four percentage point increase since 2011, rising to 17 percent in 2016 and up just 10 percentage points since 1986.  These trends suggest that opportunities to lead higher education institutions have gradually increased for women and minorities.”

Take a few minutes to read through the report. The demographic that responded to the survey, 1,546 presidents (out of 3,600 that were invited) gave interesting, if not surprising, insight into challenges they face, as well as thoughts behind job choices and their immediate future.

Following is a link to a summary and perspective on the study, published in The Chronicle.