Presidential Leadership

Presidential leadership and strong support from the top campus affairs administrator is an important factor in capacity building and student success.

Even in the face of political complexities, incomplete research data, and time constraints, college and university presidents are in a critical position to influence the social atmosphere of their campuses. As the chief executive of an institution of higher education, a president can make informed decisions to improve the health and safety of students and be a catalyst for new research-based programs that will benefit future efforts to develop and maintain safe and supportive learning environments. Presidents can take an active role in assuring that their campuses provide safe and supportive learning environments by

Committing to long-term, research-based solutions

It is often tempting to experiment with simple, untested strategies. Excessive college drinking, however, is a complex problem requiring complex solutions, and many quick-fix solutions have a high failure rate. Therefore, methodologically rigorous approaches are both ethically and financially sound.

Taking an active leadership role

Presidents who make a visible personal commitment and are part of the team that develops a vision for change can make a real difference on campuses when it comes to student success.

Involving the larger campus community

Integrating research into college prevention-program planning requires not only your participation, but also cooperation from the larger campus community—faculty and staff, students, parents, alumni, alcohol researchers, and policymakers. Presidents can motivate and inspire these groups to work with them by using the visibility of their office to speak passionately about the issue and possible solutions. Presidents are in a position to make a compelling case for change.


 American College Health Association. (2006). American College Health Association National College Health Assessment (ACHA-NCHA) spring 2005 reference group data report (abridged). Journal of American College Health, 55(1), 5–16. Retrieved from


Featured Resources

Cover image of the Presidential Engagement of Students at Minority Serving Institutions resource

explores the ways that presidents engage with students, using traditional means as well as social media. As the United States becomes more heavily entrenched in social media as a form of open expression and communication, presidents have been tasked with using the various platforms to better engage with their students. The report addresses two questions: 1) What does past research say about college presidents and the engagement of students? and 2) How do presidents of Minority Serving Institutions engage students?

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Presents a compilation of articles related to presidential leadership in addressing alcohol, drug use and violence prevention initiatives and challenges on college campuses. The articles discuss lessons learned from program implementation, strategies and recommendations for better collaboration and cooperation, and an overview of governance in prevention. 

Higher Education Center
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The Higher Education Center formed the six-member Presidents Leadership Group to create a blueprint for alcohol and other drug prevention on college campuses. For the first time this decade, a national group of college presidents came together to review approaches for curbing student substance use and to develop a comprehensive plan of action. This step was prompted by growing public concern about high-risk drinking by college students and its negative impact on the ability of colleges and universities to fulfill their educational mission. As Center Director William DeJong explained, "Our

The Higher Education Center for Alcohol and Other Drug Abuse and Violence Prevention