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How Universities Work

, 240 pages
October 2013



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How Universities Work

Witty and insightful, How Universities Work is destined to be an essential handbook for anyone wanting to understand universities in the United States. John V. Lombardi gives readers an insider’s view of the academy, describing the structure, logic, dynamics, and operational styles of both public and private institutions of higher education.

Lombardi defines and describes all the bits and pieces that compose a university with remarkable economy—from budgeting systems to tenure, from the library to the athletic field. Although focused on research universities, much of the discussion applies to other types of post-secondary institutions. Ideal for students, this book will form a solid foundation for courses in higher education, but it will also be a welcome addition to faculty and administrators’ personal libraries.

John V. Lombardi is a former president of the Louisiana State University System, chancellor of the University of Massachusetts Amherst, president of the University of Florida, and provost and vice president for academic affairs at the Johns Hopkins University. He is a regular contributor to Inside Higher Ed.

"Lombardi is a man who has been to the rodeo. He has served as a university president more than once. He has clearly learned every step of the way, has thought about the university, and produced a well-crafted, well-articulated text that will help to inform the uninitiated and add insight even to those with extensive experience on campus. This is the book that all university presidents wish our trustees, donors, provosts, vice presidents, deans, and faculty had read during their first week on the job. This is not a good book; this is a very good book."

"John Lombardi has always looked at higher education through the opposite end of the telescope. In so doing, he challenges the status quo. In How Universities Work he urges us to think differently and to engage disruptive ideas. This is a must-read for those who wish to see the American university regain its leadership role in this century."

"John Lombardi has outlined for us all what is involved in making these complex knowledge enterprises work and how we might manage their evolution. As an on-the-ground leader in a wide range of sociopolitical settings, Lombardi provides the kind of managerial insight that can be derived only from a person who has led from the front and made a difference. This is an important book for people interested in how one of America's most successful organizational designs can continue to be a key contributor to national success in the decades ahead."

"How Universities Work should be required reading for all governing boards, trustees, and donors. It provides a perspective of university operations and tells us how and why these wonderful places succeed. This information is essential for us to support and encourage these institutions to thrive."

"In authoring How Universities Work, Lombardi provides his expert, honest, and, at times, cynical treatise on the complexities of university management... The witty yet succinct treatment he uses to convey his message makes the book a quick read... The book will be a welcome addition to any faculty or administrators' library."

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