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Research & Reports

The Leadership Dynamic in Public College and University Systems



A Joint Paper of the National Association of System Heads, American Association of State Colleges and Universities, and the Association of Governing Boards of Universities and Colleges

This paper offers a summary of key points and recommendations from the discussion and other sources. Its purpose is to provide guidelines to each of the major figures in the leadership dynamic, helping bring about increased effectiveness in public higher education systems while contributing to a heightened understanding of these systems by state policymakers and higher education researchers.

The dynamic of shared powers and responsibility among the board, system chief executive, and institution chief executives inevitably is a source of some tension in public university and college systems. The challenge in every case is to make the tension productive—to make the relationship one that sets meaningful expectations and holds each player accountable to high standards of integrity and professionalism, while at the same time providing the support that allows each party to be effective in fulfilling his or her leadership responsibilities, particularly those that help achieve state priorities and public purposes.