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Harvard Graduate School of Education

Harvard Seminar for New Presidents

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Prepare for the responsibilities that await in your new role as a college/university president.


College and university presidents and chancellors are expected to be productive, articulate, and responsive leaders from the moment they assume office. With an array of external and institutional challenges to address, new presidents do not have the luxury of learning on the job.

The Harvard Seminar for New Presidents provides a practical orientation to the presidency, familiarizing new presidents with the opportunities and hazards they will likely face and preparing them to respond to the multiple responsibilities that await in their new roles.

Program Details

This six-day seminar focuses on critical issues in the first months and years of the presidency, with intensive sessions that address a range of topics, including board governance, fundraising, academic leadership, strategic planning, and lifestyle decisions.

You will have ample time to to reflect and consult with experts about your particular concerns and circumstances. Most importantly, you will connect with an extraordinary peer group of colleagues from across the country.


  • Explore the president’s multiple roles: chief executive officer, senior personnel officer, and academic leader
  • Understand the relationship between the president and board of trustees and your power to improve institutional governance
  • Examine the components of the fundraising process and your role in assuring success
  • Explore the importance of the culture and traditions of an institution
  • Study the role of the president in strategic planning, and learn how to develop institutional performance indicators and sustain progress

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 higher education — colleges, universities, and community colleges


Judith Block McLaughlin's work focuses on leadership and governance in higher education. As educational chair of the Harvard Seminar for New Presidents and the Harvard Seminar for Experienced Presidents, she has had the pleasure of working with over 1000 college and university presidents since th...
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