The changing roles and qualifications of Canadian university presidents and provosts

Abstract

This paper examines how the stated roles and qualifications of Canadian university presidents and provosts have evolved over the past thirty years and the growing presence of recruiting firms. The study analysed 153 job advertisements published by 22 universities between 1987 and 2017. Roles were categorized according to aspects of organizational life: human resource, political, structural, and symbolic, while we distinguished qualifications as involving traits as well as cultural, human, and social “capitals.” Overall, the expected qualifications for presidential and provostial candidates have increased consistently and their roles have expanded in scope. Trait qualifications and symbolic roles, while mostly absent in 1987, became prevalent by 2017, suggesting a slow but clear shift towards managerialist and charismatic depictions of leadership. This increase took place concurrently with universities’ increasing reliance on recruiting firms.

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Lavigne, E., Sá, C.M. The changing roles and qualifications of Canadian university presidents and provosts. High Educ (2020). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10734-020-00555-w

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Keywords

  • Higher education
  • Presidential searches
  • Provostial searches
  • Leadership
  • Job advertisement