What is Needed in the Next UA President

Results of the Survey Conducted in December

At the tail-end of the fall semester, the Akron-AAUP surveyed bargaining unit faculty about the qualities we are looking for in a new President. Although the survey took place when faculty were busy finalizing grades and was open for less than one week, we are pleased that almost 200 members responded.

Below is a summary of your responses to our primary questions.  For ease of reporting, we have included the share of respondents who thought that each of the criteria was either “Essential” or “Very Important” for the next President to possess. As can be seen below, the results are quite telling.

At the top of the list is that our next President must “demonstrate respect for the faculty.”  In addition to this, more than 90% of the faculty think that it is essential or very important that our next leader provide evidence of high integrity, that s/he accept responsibility/accountability, has experience in higher education, makes the academic mission of the university her/his top priority, and has the ability to bring the University community together.

At least 80% of the faculty respondents also think that our next President has to make decisions based on evidence, has earned a Ph.D. or an equivalent terminal degree, can think strategically, is committed to the importance of research, is able to make hard decisions, is student-centered and engages in a consultative leadership style.

At the other end of the spectrum, less than a quarter of faculty respondents contend that our next President has to have already served as a university President, has experience with technology transfer and intellectual property, can bring a business model to education and comes from outside academia.

The survey also included an open-ended question soliciting other qualities desired in a new President, and almost 80 faculty provided answers. A considerable number of these emphasized, often in stronger and passionate language, the points mentioned above: the need for an inclusive management style, integrity and ethical leadership and for basing decisions on data. Several other key themes emerged: experience in working with regional campuses, the need for someone who can work with and value the broader Akron community, and the need to hire a permanent Provost and revamp UA’s senior leadership.

Combining the quantitative and qualitative responses suggests that the faculty want a markedly different leadership style at UA — one that respects them and makes central the academic mission of UA; a leader who acts with integrity and accountability, who can think strategically and make hard decisions based on evidence, and who can bring the campus and broader Akron community together. We urge members of the search committee to commit to this clarion call for a new model, so that we can work collectively towards a new way of “charting the course” for UA.