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Future of higher education depends on more diverse field of college leaders

Gilda Barabino is the president of Olin College of Engineering in Needham.John Tlumacki/Globe Staff

The Globe noted an important but often-overlooked trend in higher education (“Vacancies may open door for more diverse college leaders,” Page A1, July 6). These openings, from Harvard to Rhode Island College to Concord Community College in New Hampshire, offer an important opportunity to diversify college leadership. Even with an increasing demand for college-educated workers, our nation’s college enrollments have been declining for a decade. Those twin trends threaten our nation’s economic future and are likely to continue unless presidents lead differently, making sure their colleges deliver more degrees of more value to an increasingly diverse population.

If boards want to hire transformational leaders who can get that job done, they must look for talent everywhere. That means reversing the historic bias against women and non-white leaders that has resulted in a preponderance of white male college presidents in New England and elsewhere. Our society, economy, and democracy will depend on finding a new generation of visionary and diverse college leaders.


Joshua Wyner

Executive director

Aspen Institute College Excellence Program

Washington, D.C.