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First Among Equals

, 256 pages
September 2000



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First Among Equals

The Role of the Chief Academic Officer

The first full-length study devoted to examining new roles and responsibilities of the chief academic officer—now more often called vice president for academic affairs or provost than the traditional academic dean— First Among Equals addresses the need for vision and leadership by these individuals in an increasingly complex higher education environment. Contributors to this landmark volume—all present or former chief academic officers—conclude that the most effective leaders combine high levels of managerial acumen with professional scholarship while challenging their institutions to provide effective programs for complex and demanding constituencies.

Each chapter of First Among Equals explores a different aspect of the chief academic officer's primary responsibilities, including relations with the president and the board, academic governance, curriculum development, new instructional technologies, enrollment management, legal affairs, and faculty development, among others. As higher education institutions compete to unprecedented degrees for the brightest students and the most accomplished faculty, First Among Equals provides much needed guidance for those who occupy or aspire to this position, both in understanding its expanding number of tasks and becoming expert at performing them.

Contributors: Roy A. Austenson, Michael Baer, James Coffman, Mark Edelstein, Michael Gallagher, Alice B. Hayes, Ruth Larimer, Georgia Lesh-Laurie, Paula Hooper Mayhew, James Martin, James E. Samels, Peter Stace, Jon Strolle.

James Martin is vice president for academic affairs at Mount Ida College. James E. Samels is president of The Samels Group Higher Education Consultants and founder of Samels Associates, a law firm specializing in higher education law. Together they write a regular column on higher education issues for the Boston Business Journal.

"A very good book, perhaps the best of... similar books of the past decade... First Among Equals is excellent at exposing a persistent and growing dilemma for chief academic officers. These officers are usually selected—after careful scrutiny and many interviews—because of their record of scholarship, good teaching, and devotion to the life of the mind. Once in office, however, they quickly find they must submerge their delight in intellectual matters to deal with a mountain of paperwork and e-mail messages, campus controversies, personnel fights, investments in technology, multicultural issues, and financial overruns... The book is therefore quite right in advocating that academic leaders should muster their courage and make 'choices that demonstrate educational leadership and managerial vision.'... Valuable because of its emphasis on the emerging and enlarging role of the academic vice president."

"Addresses changes in the role of the chief academic officer and today's best practices in faculty leadership, strategic planning, curriculum development, technology use in the classroom, and governance... A practical resource for deans, presidents, trustees, and chief academic officers."