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Effective President-Student Communications

With all of the challenges of the pandemic, one upside is that college presidents and students have come to better understand one another. Presidents now have a more well-rounded understanding of students’ multifaceted lives, while students have become more aware of the complexities of running a college.

The Chronicle recently spoke with 15 college presidents to discuss their best practices for maintaining positive student communications. Effective President-Student Communications: Vital interaction for today’s campus leaders contains key takeaways from these conversations:

Meet regularly.

Collegewide online meetings that began during the pandemic are likely to become a permanent fixture, and provide a valuable way for presidents to relay essential information to students as a supplement to written communications.

Empathize and show solidarity.

Though some of the acute early-pandemic problems have faded, college students still face a wide range of socioeconomic and mental-health challenges. Reaching out and connecting one-on-one with students helps boost morale and promotes a sense of belonging.

Circulate and be accessible.

In order for a president to truly be effective, he or she should maintain a calm, informal presence around campus, actively participating in student events.

Don’t duck thorny issues.

Problems and controversies come with the job. To work through them, presidents should engage often with student leaders, explain trade-offs clearly to the community, and let data do the talking.

Remember to have fun.

With the pressures of the day-to-day, it’s easy to forget that one of the biggest benefits of being the president of a college is being on a college campus. Find ways to have fun with the student body.

“Effective President-Student Communications” was was written by Alexander C. Kafka and produced by Chronicle Intelligence. Please contact with questions or comments.