The 7 colleges that produced the most first-time presidents

The Chronicle of Higher Education recently released a list of the institutions that produced the most first-time college presidents and chancellors.

Since 2012, each institution on the list produced at least three first-time presidents, who typically went on to lead colleges in the same sector. For instance, the University of Kansas prepared presidents to lead other large, public universities, while Williams College prepared presidents to lead private, liberal arts colleges.

The new presidents came from a variety of positions from within their previous institutions; provosts, vice presidents, deans, and professors are all represented on the list.

According to the Chronicle, here are the seven institutions that have prepared the most first-time college presidents:

1. Harvard University*
2. Arizona State University* (tie)
2. University of Chicago* (tie)
2. University of Michigan-Ann Arbor* (tie)
5. University of Kansas* (tie)
5. University of Pennsylvania* (tie)
5. Williams College (tie)

*Editor's note: EAB congratulates our member institutions who appear on the list. Member institutions above have been marked with an asterisk.

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So what goes into producing a first-time president? "The key element, say present and former presidents and mentors, is a combination of cultivation and supportive structures that help midlevel administrators make their way up the management ladder," writes Peter Monaghan for the Chronicle.

A number of first-time presidents also attribute their success to mentors. For example, Sarah Bolton, president of the College of Wooster, attributes her 2016 presidential appointment to her mentor, Adam Falk, who was serving as Williams' president at the time. Falk reinforced Williams' faculty rotations and hired staff "committed to helping those of us fortunate enough to be in those faculty leadership roles to learn much more quickly and much more deeply about the kind of work we were engaging in and the institution was engaging in," explains Bolton.

And Judith Shapiro, who became president of Barnard College after a career as faculty member, anthropology chair, dean, and provost at Bryn Mawr College, credits her mentor Mary Patterson McPherson with helping her land the position.

"On the one hand, she managed to convey that she really regretted seeing me go, but, on the other hand, I’m quite sure that she could not have been more supportive in any of her conversations with Barnard people," says Shapiro. "So I felt this kind of being valued, being supported, at the same time, and I also felt that she would be someone I could always commune with as a colleague—as a colleague president" (Chronicle of Higher Education almanac, 8/19; Monaghan, Chronicle of Higher Education, 8/20).

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