Associate-degree colleges have most diverse presidents

Public associate degree-granting institutions have the highest proportion of women and minority presidents of any type of higher education institution, according to a new survey of U.S. college and university presidents.

Thirty-six percent of associate college presidents are women and 20 percent are minorities, says the new American Council on Education (ACE) survey, which looks at presidential demographics, search and selection processes, career trajectories, and duties and responsibilities, among other topics. Among all public and private U.S. colleges and universities, three out of 10 college presidents are women, and fewer than one in five are racial/ethnic minorities.

Presidents of associate- and baccalaureate-granting colleges were also younger than peers at doctorate and master’s degree institutions, according to the survey, which included responses from 1,546 presidents, chancellors and CEOs — among them, 438 from public associate-degree colleges.

The average age of an associate-degree institution president is 60, which was the same average age in 2011. About 13 percent of associate college presidents are 50 or younger, the highest proportion of any classification, according to the survey.

The overall average age of U.S. college and university presidents is 62 — which is a full decade older than when ACE first survey college presidents 30 years ago.

Focus on funding

The survey shows that funding remains a key issue for most college and university presidents, with nearly all of them spending most of their time on matters related to fundraising, budget and finance. About half of them expect that states will continue to lower higher education funding over the next five years, and more than a quarter expect the same of federal funding. Conversely, most presidents expect funding from private gifts, grants, contracts, tuition and fees, and endowment income to increase over the same period.

When looking at what areas will be most important to their successors, the participating presidents cited budget and financial management (68 percent), fundraising (47 percent), enrollment management (38 percent), and diversity and equity issues (30 percent).

Decisions using data

Although surveyed presidents indicated that data-informed decision making to improve student success will grow in importance — especially as funding and accountability pressures intensify — only 12 percent of presidents indicated that using institutional research to inform decision making was a future area of importance.

“This signals a potential disconnect with institutional research offices and functions, and that perhaps more presidents need to awaken to the importance of data-informed decision making at the institutional level,” according to the ACE report.

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