A college president is responsible for overseeing all operations — both academic and administrative — within an educational institution. The president of a college is equivalent to the CEO of a major corporation, meaning they have to ensure that their organization is successful. In a college, that means focusing on enrollment rates and student GPAs while ensuring the school spends within its budget.
To become a college president, you need to have plenty of experience in education. In most cases, experience in education and administration is necessary, and often, schools promote school presidents from within their own organizations. Aside from building a track record of experience, it’s important to prelude your career with an adequate education if your ultimate career goal is to head up a college or university.
A college president’s responsibilities are vast. In addition to ensuring the administrative side of the college runs smoothly, they’re responsible for ensuring the success of the student body. Additionally, the college president needs to make sure the school has a positive image, which can contribute to enrollment rates and as a result, the school’s overall profit.
A college president’s job description is long and all-inclusive. As the person in charge of their organization’s entire operations, it’s nearly impossible to list all of the duties a college president. The list that follows includes some of the more notable responsibilities a college president is expected to take on:
College presidents are masters of their industry. They’ve climbed the ranks within the education system to reach the top of their organization and are experts in all matters pertaining to their school. Some of the qualities that are shared among most successful college presidents include:
A college president should have a postgraduate degree, such as a master’s degree. There are many college presidents who hold a doctorate, such as a PhD or EdD.
Work experience is important, as well. A college president is likely to have years of experience in the education system under their belt, likely with some experience in administration and some in education. In many cases, they may have been previously employed as an academic dean or a public officer.
There are several certifications and endorsements that college presidents can consider obtaining to further their own education and abilities.
College presidents’ salaries range depending on the school that employs them. Those in ivy league and other well-known institutions typically earn the highest salaries, those presiding over smaller universities or community colleges can expect to earn less.
According to PayScale.com, the annual salary earned by college presidents across the U.S. ranges from $82,000 to $486,000, with bonuses ranging from $5,000 to $103,000 per year. PayScale.com states that the average salary for college presidents is $150,143 per year. Ziprecruiter lists university presidents’ average salary a little lower at $73,079 per year, while Glassdoor lists it at $111,000.
The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) is a government agency that monitors salaries and growth for several careers across the U.S. Its database doesn’t have an entry for college presidents, but it does predict a 7% rise in job opportunities for post-secondary administrators by the year 2028.
The prestige that comes with becoming a college president is certainly something to consider when choosing it as your ultimate career goal. Making it to the top of your industry is a major accomplishment, and that alone is a major pro of becoming a college president. However, there are plenty of other important things to consider before committing to a career path that paves the way to taking on this important job.
There are plenty of academic conferences across the U.S. that offer opportunities for college presidents to expand their knowledge of current academic policy and curricula requirements, as well as liaise with other school administrators and educators. Those who hold memberships in The Presidents’ Trust have the chance to attend an annual symposium, during which college presidents and CEOs strategize and discuss issues and concerns facing higher education.
Although spare time may be limited for many college presidents, those who can make time for it may wish to consider continuing education programs that can enhance their skills as both educators and administrators.
There are a wide variety of associations in the U.S. and beyond that are available to educators and college administrators, including several that are specific to college presidents, vice-presidents, and academic deans.
College presidents can use the web to make connections with other professionals and learn new strategies that may help to ensure the success of their schools.