Scott C. Beardsley
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A revolution has been taking place in the ranks of higher education. University and college presidents—once almost invariably the products of "traditional" scholarly, tenure-track career paths, up through the provost’s office—are rapidly becoming a group with diverse skills and backgrounds. The same is true for many deans and administrative leaders.
In Higher Calling: The Rise of Nontraditional Leaders in Academia, Scott C. Beardsley, dean of the University of Virginia’s prestigious Darden School of Business, offers a new vision of leadership for today’s higher education. Grounded in the author’s own inspirational story of leaving McKinsey & Company in pursuit of a new source of meaning in his professional life, Higher Calling employs research gathered from search firm executives who now play king or queen maker in presidential and dean searches. It also takes into account information from U.S. liberal arts colleges—considered by many to be the bellwethers of change—to explore what set of strengths an institution of higher education needs in a leader in the twenty-first century. Beardsley explores the widely varying definitions and associated numbers of traditional and nontraditional leaders and asks, Why are U.S. colleges and universities hiring nontraditional candidates to lead them into the future? How are the skills required to lead higher education institutions changing? Or has the search process changed, resulting in a more diverse set of candidates?
Providing not only an analysis of nontraditional leaders in higher education but also strategies for developing skills and selecting leaders, Beardsley offers a wealth of information for the modern university in the face of change.