When Glendell Jones Jr. became the 17th president of Henderson State University six years ago, few watchers in higher education circles saw his ascendancy as a shift in the profile of college presidents. As noteworthy as it was that he was the first African-American to serve as president or chancellor of a non-historically black college or university in Arkansas, less noted was another position he’d once held that is increasingly viewed as a possible path to the presidency: executive assistant to the chancellor for diversity initiatives. Several other former college administrators who’ve served as chief diversity officers, or CDOs -- a now common catchall term for positions such as vice chancellor for diversity and climate, vice president for institutional diversity, dean of diversity and academic engagement, and vice president for strategic and diversity initiatives -- have become college or university presidents in recent years. And as the list grows, some people are starting to describe, albeit cautiously, what is happening as a trend
As academia’s most exalted qualification, the PhD is still widely regarded as solid proof of elevated intellectual power. It can also evoke loftier ideas of “brilliance”, “excellence” and, on some occasions, even “genius”. The perception of the PhD is rather different within academia, it seems. According to a new paper published in Teaching in Higher Education, many academics and doctoral students see the PhD process not so much as an intellectual feat but as a test of character – or, in the words of one PhD supervisor interviewed for the report, a “matter of personality rather than abilities”.
Early on in my career as a headhunter, I became interested in the dozens of qualities that make top scientists stand out. Then, a conversation with one of my contacts shifted my thinking. “Success in the biotech industry, like any pursuit, seems to boil down to no more than about a half-dozen things,” Leo Kim told me more than 2 decades ago. He was the vice president of a biotech company at the time, and I frantically wrote down his words as he piled great advice on top of great advice. After our discussion, I began to think about the topic in a different way. I had been looking for dozens of different factors, but is it really just a handful of core traits that make the difference?