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Presidencies Derailed

, 184 pages

1 line drawing

April 2016



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Presidencies Derailed

Why University Leaders Fail and How to Prevent It


Presidencies Derailed is the first book to explore in depth why university presidencies fail and how university and college leadership can forestall, if not prevent, future leadership failures. Former university president Stephen Joel Trachtenberg, along with professor Gerald B. Kauvar and former chancellor E. Grady Bogue, organize, classify, and explain patterns of leadership failures, drawing on firsthand testimonies from "derailed" university presidents, sixteen case studies in four sectors of higher education, and reviews of the scholarly literature on leadership failures in the public and private sectors.

Stephen Joel Trachtenberg was a long-serving president of George Washington University and the former president of the University of Hartford. He is the author of Big Man on Campus: A University President Speaks Out on Higher Education, Reflections on Higher Education, and Speaking His Mind: Five Years of Commentary on Higher Education. Gerald B. Kauvar is a research professor of public policy and public administration and the special assistant to the president emeritus at George Washington University. E. Grady Bogue (1935–2013) was the chancellor of Louisiana State University in Shreveport and the coauthor of Quality and Accountability in Higher Education: Improving Policy, Enhancing Performance

"This book should be read by presidential search committees and purchased by vice presidents worried about their president’s success."

"Individuals concerned for the welfare of their institution should have an awareness of change in leadership and its consequences for the university. Presidencies Derailed is a good resource for those serving on search committees, aspiring presidents, and others interested in leadership transitions. This book certainly offered an overview of many timely, practical examples of derailed presidents."

"A book with relevance far beyond academe."

"The authors provide a thoroughly researched account of career fiascos."

"Every derailed presidency has its own story. The risk of failure is high."

"This is one of the best professional books I have ever read."

"Without qualification, this book is and will remain the classic on why university presidents succeed or fail. Not to mention the lessons also apply to all top leadership!"

"There are few university presidents like Stephen Joel Trachtenberg—at once knowledgeable, creative, commonsensical, likable, and aggressive (indeed, relentless, even outrageous) in the pursuit of institutional uplift and excellence."

"In emphasizing the importance of presidential searches, and describing how some fail while others succeed, Presidencies Derailed makes an essential observation that is about neither success nor failure."

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