Eisenhower in Command at Columbia

Eisenhower in Command at Columbia

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Dwight D. Eisenhower's presidency of Columbia University (1948-1953) is among the least written about periods of his career. It is all but dismissed by historians as a mere interlude between his service as World War II's most celebrated general and his two terms as president of the United States. His Columbia tenure was marked by extended absences from campus and ongoing political speculation regarding a run for the White House in 1952. Eisenhower in Command at Columbia disputes the conventional wisdom that Eisenhower's Columbia presidency was unsuccessful. In fact, under his leadership, Columbia moved forward in several important areas. Eisenhower's tenure at Columbia was, nevertheless, difficult at times. His lack of both academic experience and a full understanding of academic culture diminished his capacity to lead and damaged his credibility with faculty. While the book brings historical perspective to Eisenhower's presidency of Columbia, its primary purpose is to analyze Eisenhower's tenure in the context of higher education leadership.
His experience at Columbia is relevant today because it demonstrates the importance of understanding institutional culture when leading a college or university. His selection as the university's president reveals flaws in the process that still plague boards today in what is arguably their most important job -selecting an institution's leader. This book will appeal to scholars in higher education, history, and university administration, among others.
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Product details

  • Hardback | 132 pages
  • 152.4 x 228.6 x 15.24mm | 340.19g
  • Lexington Books
  • Lanham, MD, United States
  • English
  • 1 Halftones, black and white
  • 0739178369
  • 9780739178362

About Douglas E. Clark

Douglas E. Clark has more than 20 years of experience as an executive-level administrator in higher education. He is a graduate of the Executive Doctorate in Higher Education Management at the University of Pennsylvania, the Harvard Institute for Educational Management (IEM), and the Sorensen Institute for Political Leadership at the University of Virginia. He has taught courses in management and government at Ferrum College, Mary Baldwin College, and Virginia Western Community College. Marybeth Gasman is professor of higher education at the University of Pennsylvania and is editor of The History of U.S. Higher Education: Methods for Understanding the Past.
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Review quote

Eisenhower in Command at Columbia shows how even successful leaders operating in complex ways, using multiple strategies to suit different emerging situations, can make missteps that create unfortunate circumstances. Clark shows how successful leaders are attuned to their contexts, operating within the culture and norms, and attentive to key constituencies. The book provides a cautionary tale for leaders to carefully understand institutional context, a problem that plagued Eisenhower's presidency at Columbia. Leaders with humility, integrity, belief in the public good, and the ability to listen can often prevail even when they come to organizations and settings where they have little knowledge or understanding, but the chances are much lower. Eisenhower's tenure at Columbia reveals that even the most capable leaders need to be aware of context. We should heed the lessons from history offered in this book, and apply them to our understanding of higher education leadership going forward. -- Adrianna J. Kezar, University of Southern California Douglas Clark's Eisenhower in Command at Columbia shows by example that the history of higher education in the United States is for the curious, not the faint hearted. Historian Clark has rescued from neglect and institutional amnesia the unusual yet important story of how a great national leader in one sphere (World War II military) fared as a selected leader in another, wholly different setting -the great American university. Far better than a mystery novel, Clark's archival research and oral histories, combined with sound secondary sources for historical and national context, brings a long needed spotlight to illuminate the complexities of universities and their presidents. Best of all, his over-arching interpretation of presidential candidates, trustees, and university professors imbues his book with significance for all contemporary universities in their questing and sorting for leaders, past and present. -- John R. Thelin, University of Kentucky Douglas Clark has produced a clearly written and superb study of the Eisenhower years at Columbia University. The strength of Eisenhower in Command at Columbia is Clark's brilliant analysis of the difficulties that may occur when a military vision of leadership encounters a highly charged academic environment. The work also provides an insightful portrayal of American higher education in the immediate postwar era. Scholars of both history and education will enjoy the perspectives offered in this book. -- Daniel Metraux, Mary Baldwin College
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Table of contents

Introduction Chapter 1: The College Presidency: Historical Background and Career Path Chapter 2: Higher Education and Columbia University in the Post War Years Chapter 3: The Military Leader Chapter 4: In Command at Columbia: Leadership and Mission in Higher Education Chapter 5: The Presidential Selection Process at Columbia University Chapter 6: Carl Ackerman's Conspiracy Theory Chapter 7: Accomplishments and Historical Assessments Chapter 8: Conclusion: Lessons for Higher Education Practitioners
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