Category Archives: Leadership

Why College Presidents Benefit from Coaching

The essay below, by Mary Sue Coleman and Lisa Rudgers, originally appeared April 20, 2021, in Inside Higher Ed.

Mary Sue Coleman

Being a college president is tough under the best of circumstances. While the pandemic has exponentially expanded the day-to-day work and uncertainty, the job has in truth always been extremely challenging. Pressures from stakeholders across the institution, economic and political stressors, and the precariousness of the sector’s financial model can threaten to undermine even the most determined leader’s ability to sustain forward momentum.

Lisa Rudgers

This is especially true for those taking on higher education’s CEO role for the first time. New presidents must learn how to navigate the institution’s governance and culture, all while balancing the seemingly endless demands from internal and external constituents.

Increasingly, wise boards of trustees and campus leaders are recognizing that executive coaching and mentoring can be an important component in successful presidential leadership over the long haul. Although executive coaching is common in the corporate sector, higher education has been slower to understand the benefits that external coaching and expertise can bring to bear — and the reasons why an experienced, outside perspective is so valuable. Here’s what we’ve learned. Continue reading

A Trio of Superstars Joins PRG

We could hardly wait to write this blog post.

Julie, Steve and I are thrilled to announce that three higher education superstars are joining the Peterson Rudgers Group team as Senior Advisors: Mary Sue Coleman, E. Royster Harper and Cynthia Wilbanks. The trio will offer our clients (and us) an unparalleled breadth of experience and depth of wisdom drawn from their decades of experience at the highest levels of university leadership.

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Best Practices for Leadership Transition

For colleges in the midst of presidential transition, this is often the time of year when search committees are reviewing candidates, selecting finalists and preparing to announce a new leader. It is an historic, forward-looking milestone in the life of an institution, and among the most important responsibilities trustees and university leaders undertake.

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Reflecting on Four Years

Team PRG marks its fourth anniversary September 1. In previous years we have paused to raise a toast in celebration, but as one of our clients recently wrote, “This is a time like no other.”

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Guideposts for New Presidents in the Time of Pandemic

We work with a great many new and first-time college presidents. Even in good times, taking the helm of a complex, decentralized and highly political organization presents career-defining challenges for new leaders. But in the time of pandemic, these challenges multiply and accelerate, forcing an incoming president to battle unimaginable crises and weigh in on urgent decisions — before the freshly appointed can even set a foot on their campuses.

A recent headline in the Chronicle of Higher Education summed it up aptly: “Welcome to the College Presidency. Oh, the House is on Fire.”

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