Professional Education

Harvard Seminar for New Presidents

July 11-16, 2014
Newly Appointed First-Year Presidents

Tuition includes shared accommodation with another program participant: $6,325
Tuition with private room: $7,125

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What You Will Learn

Productive, articulate, responsive leadership is expected as soon as a new college or university president assumes office. Multiple institutional pressures do not permit the luxury of learning on the job. The Harvard Seminar for New Presidents provides new presidents with a practical and conceptual orientation to the presidency. It familiarizes new presidents with the opportunities and hazards they will likely face and prepares them to respond to the multiple responsibilities and constituencies of their new role.

Program Overview

In sessions ranging from fundraising to building the administrative team, the Seminar focuses on the critical issues of the first months and years of the presidency. It provides a chance for new presidents to reflect on their own situations and to consult with experts about their special concerns and circumstances. Most importantly, the seminar introduces presidents to an extraordinary peer group of colleagues from around the country.

Program Objectives

Intensive, interactive sessions address key topics critical to the first years of a presidency:

  • The Contexts of Leadership explores the importance of the culture and traditions of an institution. How can the president be sensitive to organizational culture and the important traditions of the institution while encouraging and managing change?
  • Governance addresses the role of governing boards, the relationship between the president and the board of trustees, and specific steps the chief executive can take to improve board performance. What are the similarities and differences between boards of public and private institutions?
  • Presidential Fundraising examines important components of the fundraising process, and the president's role in assuring its success. What should a president do to become an effective fundraiser? What should a president expect from the chief development officer?
  • Presidential Perspective on Financial Management introduces new presidents to the role of financial information in institutional decision making. How can the president be a better manager and consumer of financial data? What are some strategies for improving campus productivity and cost containment?
  • Building the Administrative Team focuses on the president as chief executive and senior personnel officer. How do presidents assess the staffs they inherit and develop them into effective working teams?
  • Academic Leadership explores the position of the president as academic leader. How does the president exert leadership in the academic arena? How does the president sustain his or her own academic interests?
  • The Life of the President discusses issues and choices related to the lifestyle of a president. How should the president handle entertainment, identify the role of the spouse, manage the president's house, and live in the spotlight of the presidency?
  • Strategic Planning examines the president's role in the design and implementation of strategic planning efforts, and discusses how to develop and sustain institutional performance indicators.

Who Should Attend

  • First-time college and university presidents ranging from those who have been appointed but not yet assumed office to those within the first 12 months of their presidency
  • Presidents from all sectors of American higher education—colleges, universities and community colleges
  • Enrollment is limited to approximately 45 new presidents

Faculty Chair

Judith Block McLaughlin is Senior Lecturer on Education, Director of the Higher Education Program and the Higher Education Doctoral concentration at HGSE. McLaughlin's teaching and research interests focus on leadership and governance in higher education. She is chair of the Massachusetts Public Education Nominating Council, the body that nominates trustees for the state's public colleges and universities. She has written and consulted extensively on leadership transitions, presidential assessment, board-president relationships, senior staff functioning and board governance.


Lawrence Bacow, President Emeritus, Tufts University; Fellow of Harvard College, Harvard University

Lee Bolman, Professor and Marion Bloch/Missouri Chair in Leadership, University of Missouri–Kansas City

Kent Chabotar, President, Guilford College

Drew Faust, President, Harvard University

Jim Honan, Senior Lecturer on Education; Educational Co-Chair, Institute for Educational Management (IEM), HGSE

Freeman Hrabowski, President, University of Maryland, Baltimore County

Gloria Larson, President, Bentley University

Paul LeBlanc, President, Southern New Hampshire University

Felix Matos Rodriguez, President, Hostos Community College

Peter Mercer, President, Ramapo College of New Jersey

Dana Mohler-Faria, President, Bridgewater State University

Scott Nichols, Senior Vice President for Development and Alumni Relations, Boston University

Carol Quillen, President, Davidson College

William Ryan, Research Fellow, Harvard Kennedy School

Enrollment Instructions

Applications are accepted on a rolling basis. Applicants are responsible for submitting supplemental materials with their online application. You will be asked to provide your personal profile and institutional information in a single, MS Word or PDF document to complete the application process. 

  1. Letter of interest (addressing current institutional and personal challenges and why seminar participation will be of value)
  2. Resume

Payment is due within 30 days of acceptance into the program. If acceptance into the program falls less than 30 days prior to program start date, payment is due upon acceptance.


The comprehensive tuition includes all instructional materials, accommodations, refreshments and most meals. Participants receive a certificate of participation at the close of the program.
Payment or a purchase order is due 30 days after registration. If acceptance into the program falls less than 30 days prior to program start date, payment is due upon acceptance. Participants are responsible for their own travel expenses.


Participants will be housed at a local hotel with the option of a shared or single room. Detailed information will be provided to all admitted participants. The Harvard Graduate School of Education is not responsible for non-refundable travel arrangements or other planning expenses incurred. We recommend that you not make travel arrangements until you are admitted to the program.

Cancellation Policy

Cancellations must be submitted via fax or email. Full refunds will be given up to 30 days prior to the start of the program. Due to program demand and pre-program preparations, cancellations received 29–14 days prior to the start of the program are subject to a fee of 10% of the program tuition. Cancellations received within 13 days prior to the start of the program and no-shows are subject to the full program tuition. Please note: cancellation fees are based upon the date the written request is received.

The Harvard Graduate School of Education reserves the right to change faculty or cancel programs at its discretion. In the unlikely event of program changes, the school is not responsible for non-refundable travel arrangements or other planning expenses incurred.

Non-Discrimination Policy

The Harvard Graduate School of Education affirms the right of all individuals to equal treatment in education without regard to age, race, religion, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, marital status, handicap, national origin, or any other factors that are extraneous to effective performance. The Harvard Graduate School of Education will accommodate anyone with disabilities.