For some college presidents, smaller may be better

BY Tracy Wholf  November 3, 2013 at 3:25 PM EDT

Following scandal or fallout over sports, a few former college presidents of major intuitions have found a second life overseeing schools of smaller stature, or assuming lower profile roles of leadership. Because of the decline of taxpayer dollars for state schools, many institutions rely on the growing revenue generated by college sports and fundraising expectations for the CEO of the campus are extremely high. Several former college presidents have found that moving to a smaller school, often with less emphasis on sports, has been a welcomed change for their career.
Holden Thorp, formerly the chancellor of the University of North Carolina, is now the provost at Washington University in St. Louis. Thorp left UNC after five years due to an academic fraud scandal involving student-athletes. “I wanted to get back closer to the academic side of things,” said Thorp, who moved down the academic chain to come to a private institution like Washington, which does not award athletic scholarships and is a Division III school.

Former Syracuse University president and chancellor Nancy Cantor will soon oversee the smaller Newark, New Jersey campus of Rutgers University. Cantor left Syracuse after firing an assistant basketball coach accused of sex crimes.

The average college presidency lasts seven years, a decline from eight-and-a-half years in 2007. This drop has many academics in management nervous about moving up the leadership ladder and some have decided to forgo position raises, or are continuing the tradition of returning to the classroom to teach.