President Chabotar Quoted on Higher Education Governance
President Kent Chabotar has been quoted by The Chronicle of Higher Education, Inside Higher Ed (in two articles) and American Public Media on the forced resignation of University of Virginia President Teresa Sullivan June 8 and her reinstatement June 26.
Faced with financial challenges and a changing landscape in higher education, governing boards are increasingly impatient, Kent told The Chronicle for a June 18 article. Whereas new presidents were once allowed two years to learn the campus, assemble a leadership team, and connect with alumni and board members, that period has shrunk to more like six months, he said. Teresa was president of UVa. for two years before her resignation was announced June 10.
Kent teaches at both the annual Harvard University Seminar for New Presidents — which Teresa attended — and the Association of Governing Boards’ annual seminar for new board members. Before coming to Guilford in 2002, he served as the chief financial officer at Bowdoin College.
He spoke to Inside Higher Ed for a June 25 article about a UVa. administrator who, according to critics, disparaged the president during frequent meetings with members of the Board of Visitors. “The reality is that, in my view, a CFO owes his or her first allegiance to the CEO,” Kent said. “He or she works for the CEO, and unless there’s a clear and present danger to the integrity of the institution … when in doubt, back your boss.”
Presidents should only be left out of communication between administrators and members of a governing board when the president is engaged in malfeasance or taking actions that would quickly bankrupt the institution, he said.
Kent spoke to Inside Higher Ed again for a July 2 article about how members of governing boards are taking a greater interest in the details of university policy than they once did. “In their view they’re being more helpful,” he said. “To the administrators, it can sometimes feel intrusive.” A story on the Guilford website includes Kent’s other comments in the article.
American Public Media’s Marketplace program interviewed Kent for a June 25 segment. Many board members come from the business world, he said. “They’re used to change at a very different pace, so I think that’s what’s causing some of the disconnects.”
The controversy, he added, is a “teachable moment” for all of higher education.