University President  What They Do

Just the Facts

Insider Info

dotA college or university president must be able to answer such questions as:

  • Should a university offer more programs for undergraduate students? Or should it become a research-based school that focuses on graduate studies?
  • Should it offer co-op programs?
  • Should it increase its focus on technology programs?
  • Should the humanities continue to receive generous funding?

The president makes major decisions regarding the operation of the institution. They are also responsible for the vision of the university. A president must think about the impending changes in a society, and how education can change to meet these new needs.

dotPresidents get some help deciding what major issues are facing the university. Large institutions generally have a board of directors made up of people who decide the school's policies. These directors meet with the president, who then works to implement these goals.

dotGiving students a good education costs money. The president is often involved in generating and allocating funds that come into the university. That can mean attending fund-raising functions.

dotUniversity presidents can work at large institutions. In that case, they may be responsible for as many as 40,000 to 50,000 students. They can also work at smaller universities and colleges, where the enrollment can be as little as a few hundred students.

dotPresidents are generally university professors who have made the transition to administrative duties. They have often taught in their specific discipline for many years.

dotRunning an institution can require long hours. It can mean working evenings and weekends. A university president is a public figure with a certain amount of prestige within the community. That brings the responsibility of attending functions outside of office hours.

"This kind of job description is labor-intensive for the president. But for me and for colleagues who work this way, it is surprisingly unstressful," says Claire Gaudiani. She is the former president of Connecticut College.

dotBeing a university president doesn't require much physical effort. This is an office job. Some travel may be required. The work is often done in a spacious office, with support staff available.

At a Glance

Be responsible for the overall vision of the school

  • University presidents are generally professors who have moved into administration
  • Salaries can be $100,000 or more per year
  • You can get training in educational policy studies