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Secrets of the Presidential Turn-Around

Secrets of the Presidential Turn-AroundVision, leadership and old-fashioned hard work help troubled schools reboundBy Cheryl D. FieldsIn today’s competitive higher education market, where institutions are struggling to balance the demands of tightening budgets, expanding technology needs, burgeoning enrollments and salary crunches, presidents who have a knack for turning water into wine are a sought-after lot. People like Dr. John Garland, who in the mid-1990s brought Central State University back from the brink of closure; Dr. David Swinton, who in the past decade has breathed new life into what was once an ailing Benedict College; and Dr. Johnnetta Cole, who led Spelman College to become one of the wealthiest and most sought-after liberal arts colleges in the country, have turned their institutions around with varying combinations of ingenuity, confidence and commitment. But they are not alone.
For this year’s Academic Kickoff edition, Black Issues consults with veteran college presidents for tips on what it takes to be an effective turn-around artist. They include Dr. Luns Richardson of Morris College as well as four other college presidents whose names haven’t always made national headlines, but whose dedication and commitment over the past decade offer prime examples of the leadership today’s institutions need to excel, especially during tough times. Their stories are featured in the following pages.

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