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  • Writer's picturePatricia Salkin

Legal Background Noted as a Path to the College Presidency

In February 2024, WittKieffer released a report, Talent Insights: The Path to the College Presidency, where they confirmed that while presidents specialize in a wide variety of academic areas, 13% have a legal education (J.D.) background. This statistic reiterates the finding in May it Please the Campus: Lawyers Leading Higher Education. The report also notes that while provosts positions are typical stepping stones to the presidency (38%), 22% of presidents previously served as a dean immediately prior to their presidential appointment. A recent blog post about lawyer provosts also shows this connection, and the data in May it Please the campus shows the number of law school deans who later became presidents (some went right to the presidency while others stopped in the provost office first).

The report contains infographics with lots of interesting data points including:

  • The average age of current presidents is 63 years old.

  • 68% of presidents are male and 32% are female.

  • The average tenure of a president is 8 years.

  • 55 years of age is the average for first appointment as a president.

  • One quarter of current university presidents at leading institutions previously held the role elsewhere.

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