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Cheyney University President Mentors Next Generation of College Presidents

April 5, 2014

For the third year in a row, Cheyney University President Dr. Michelle R. Howard-Vital has taken some aspiring college presidents under her wing. For the next several months, she will help, advise and encourage them as part of the American Council on Education (ACE) Spectrum Leadership Program.

“Dr. Kim Bobby, Director of ACE’s Inclusive Excellence Group, asked me to participate as a presidential adviser and panelist for future presidents. Since I have informally mentored many who are seeking the college presidency and careers in higher education, this seemed like a worthwhile endeavor. Moreover, ACE President Molly Broad and Dr. Gretchen Bataille, the first woman to serve as president of the University of North Texas, have been excellent mentors to me.” Realizing the importance of giving back, Dr. Vital does not hesitate when reaching out to help the next generation of higher education leaders.

The six-month program is designed to further diversify the senior leadership ranks of U.S. higher education by preparing various senior level administrators from underrepresented groups to be strong candidates for presidencies and chancellorships in the near term.

Dr. Vital, who sits on ACE’s Women’s Network Executive Council, is just back from a three-day ACE conference in Florida where she heard from an array of speakers including Scott Jaschik, Editor of Inside Higher Education, who told the college presidents gathered how to respond to aggressive reporters. From now through mid-October, President Vital will be the one giving advice--helping her mentees prepare for the presidential search process and engaging them in small group and panel discussions on major issues that shape the landscape of U.S. higher education in tough times.

“I enjoy it,” she shares.  "It is my belief that I am advising and continuing to learn much like what happens when you teach an advanced graduate class. During these advising sessions which occur mostly on scheduled conference calls, we discuss texts such as Senior Leadership Teams by Burrus, Wageman, et al; topics such as ethics and integrity in the presidency; and lessons from our past successful and not too successful experiences. I think it’s important to have people give you honest feedback. We always learn a lot.”