Lessons Learned gives unprecedented access to the university president's office, providing a unique set of reflections on the challenges involved in leading both research universities and liberal arts colleges. In this landmark book, William Bowen, former president of Princeton University and of the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, and coauthor of the acclaimed best-seller The Shape of the River, takes readers behind closed faculty-room doors to discuss how today's colleges and universities serve their age-old missions.
With extraordinary candor, clarity, and good humor, Bowen shares the sometimes-hard lessons he learned about working with trustees, faculty, and campus groups; building an effective administrative team; deciding when to speak out on big issues and when to insist on institutional restraint; managing dissent; cultivating alumni and raising funds; setting academic priorities; fostering inclusiveness; eventually deciding when and how to leave the president's office; and much more. Drawing on more than four decades of experience, Bowen demonstrates how his greatest lessons often arose from the missteps he made along the way, and how, when it comes to university governance, there are important general principles but often no single right answer.
Full of compelling stories, insights, and practical wisdom, Lessons Learned frames the questions that leaders of higher education will continue to confront at a complex moment in history.
William G. Bowen is president emeritus of the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation and Princeton University. His many books include the acclaimed bestseller The Shape of the River: Long-Term Consequences of Considering Race in College and University Admissions and Crossing the Finish Line: Completing College at America's Public Universities (both Princeton).
Table of Contents
CHAPTER ONE: Preamble and Context 1 CHAPTER TWO: Governing 7 The Trustees and the Resident Campus Community 8 Consultation and Decision-making on Campus 16 The ROTC Debate as an Illustrative Case of Shared Governance 21
CHAPTER THREE: Administering 24 Building an Effective Administrative Team 24 Structuring Interactions 30 Compensationfor Administrators and for the President 32
CHAPTER FOUR: The University in Society: "At a Slight Angle to the Universe" 35 Basic Principles 35 The Proposed Boycott of J. P. Stevens 42 Divestment and South Africa 44 Freedom to Speakand to Hear 46 Handling Dissent and Invoking Discipline 53
CHAPTER SIX: Setting Academic Priorities: Strategic Decisions 66 Coeducation 67 Investing in the Life Sciences 73 Graduate Education and Professional Schools 76 Strategic Decision-making in General 81
CHAPTER SEVEN: Building the Faculty 84 Recruiting and Retaining Faculty 84 Reviewing Tenure Recommendations and Salary Proposals 91 Faculty Diversity 95
CHAPTER EIGHT: Undergraduates: Admissions, Financial Aid, and Inclusiveness 98 Diversity and Financial Aid 99 Affi rmative Action and Race 101 Socioeconomic Status 106 Athletic Recruitment 109 Religious Divides: Jewish Students 112 Residential Life 115
CHAPTER NINE: Fund-Raising and Alumni Relations 119 Knowing Your Needsand Your Donors 120 The Robertson Foundation Saga 124 Alumni Relations in General 127 Contending with Hostile Groups 129
CHAPTER TEN: Life in a President's Offi ceand When to Leave 133 Partners, Colleagues, and Friends 133 Deciding What Not to Do as Well as What to Do 136 On Leaving 140 CHAPTER ELEVEN: Epilogue: Why Colleges and Universities Matter So Much 144
I loved reading Lessons Learned. It is thoughtful, pithy, and wise. This is a terrific book. I am only sorry I did not have the benefit of reading it nine years ago. I would have saved myself from making a few big mistakes. Lawrence S. Bacow, president of Tufts University
This book, it seems to me, is Bill Bowen the teacher in full cry, delivering the goods with his usual insight, clarity, and force. This is not a memoir or history of his years in Princeton's Nassau Hall but rather a sophisticated, winsome guide to what workedand didn't workas he navigated the presidential wilds. Lessons Learned is in a league by itself. Taylor Reveley, president of the College of William and Mary
There is an unusual amount of wisdom and good common sense in these pages from which any academic leader or aspiring leader could learn a lot. Derek Bok, former president of Harvard University
Hanna Holborn Gray
The lessons Bowen cites are wise and sound and balanced and, in my opinion, absolutely right on. Hanna Holborn Gray, former president of the University of Chicago
Lessons Learned is so compelling that I read it in one sitting the day I received it. Bowen's specific and vivid examples masterfully illustrate the general points he makes about governance, administration, setting priorities, recruiting faculty and students, and fundraising. I found it most stimulating as well as illuminating to read. Amy Gutmann, president of the University of Pennsylvania
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