Check out new survey results focused on how college presidents think their institutions will emerge from the pandemic. "Not everything is rosy in the presidents’ eyes, though, and other findings in the survey suggest that for all of the rhetoric about the need for their campuses to change, presidents are thinking rather traditionally about how to address their problems. Consider:

  • When asked what actions they might take to respond to the financial constraints that many colleges are facing, presidents prioritize steps to increase revenue (cultivate new donor bases, lobby for more government support) over actions that would reduce expenditures or rethink how the campus operates (reducing the academic program portfolio or their campus’s physical footprint, reconsidering tenure policies).
  • Presidents continue to believe that race relations on their own campus are significantly better than in higher education as a whole: 63 percent say the racial climate on their own campus is excellent (7 percent) or good, while only 19 percent describe campus race relations nationally as good (67 percent fair and 14 percent poor). But if that disconnect still seems large, it has narrowed: in 2020, 77 percent of presidents said race relations on their own campus were excellent (14 percent) or good. Still, one president called the continued gap an "attribution error" with a "negative moral and practical consequence."
  • Campus leaders remain troubled by the public’s perceived lack of understanding of and confidence in higher education. Fewer than a quarter believe Americans have an accurate view of the purpose of higher education and of their sector of institution, and more than eight in 10 say the public thinks college is less affordable than it is".

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