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Preparing for a New President

The following suggestions can help you prepare to welcome a new president at your college:

  • Get a list of local service clubs (names, phone numbers, etc.).
  • Get a list of local elected officials and legislators for city, county, and state.
  • Prepare a contact list of important local dignitaries and elected officials (for example, the mayor and school superintendents). The president will want to know the "players" in town.
  • Get passwords for the president's computer, telephone, etc.
  • Arrange for credit cards, SCAN cards, or any other necessary cards.
  • Get the president's parking assignment.
  • Ask about the president's preference for a chair. One size doesn't fit all.
  • Make sure your job description is up-to-date. Now is the time to add, change, or delete anything inaccurate.
  • Make a master list of all campus groups and committees. Include when they meet and who is in charge.
  • Make a list of the committees or meetings the president is expected to chair. Get copies of recent meeting minutes.
  • Take time to carefully review board protocol with the president. The president's first board meeting can be scary. Arrange for the president to have lunch with the board members.
  • Prepare a list (with phone numbers) of nearby restaurants for lunches and dinners.
  • If the president does not live in your town, get him or her a subscription to the local newspaper until he or she moves.
  • Arrange for a professional portrait sitting:
    • Print and frame for the president's board room photo.
    • Make high-resolution digital photos — both color and black and white — available to send electronically to newspapers.
    • Have professional quality photos on hand for other needs.
  • Prepare the president's biography or resume to send to local groups.
  • Redesign stationery, business cards, and other items.
  • Check the current catalog and make sure changes are included for the next issue.
  • Gather copies of strategic plans, budget reports, the latest accreditation report, and other helpful documents.
  • Work closely with a reliable trustee if you plan to have an inauguration event. Get a list of the president's colleagues and friends to invite.
  • Stock the office with new pens, pencils, legal pads, paper clips, etc.
  • Arrange for fresh flowers on the president's desk.
  • Get maintenance to clean the office, carpets and windows. Clean out the desk drawers and closets.
  • Find out what kind of computer the president wants. Does he or she also want a laptop and cell phone?
  • Find out what the president's favorite pastime or hobbies are.
  • Take an inventory of office forms and help familiarize the president with them.
  • Make a list of campus traditions; sometimes we have traditions that are so ingrained we are not even aware they are traditions.
  • Try to describe the campus culture.
  • Start thinking "next fall." What kind of welcome back does the president want to have?
  • Talk about an administrative retreat over the summer to get to know each other and work on strategic issues.
  • Find out if the president wants to be "tracked down" or interrupted when he or she gets a phone call or if someone comes to see him or her. For example, a former president always wanted his assistant to find him if he was visiting in another office. The current president tells the assistant where he is going when he leaves the office, but he does not always have his cell phone turned on. Sometimes it is not easy figuring out what is important enough to interrupt and what can wait.
  • The bottom line is to proceed with quiet caution until you get a good read on the president's preferred style. Always be open and honest. Share any news of a negative nature so that the president is aware of what's going on. Become the president's eyes and ears because if you do not, someone else will.
  • Be very flexible. Do not be so locked into an old way of doing things that you are not willing to turn your whole system upside down and try something new.
  • Laugh and relax. It is a whole new world.

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Last Modified: 1/30/24, 2:59 PM

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