Winnebagos on Wednesdays How visionary leadership can transform higher education

Scott S. Cowen

Book - 2018

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Location Call Number   Status
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William G. Bowen memorial series in higher education.
Princeton : Princeton University Press [2018]
Physical Description
xi, 253 pages ; 25 cm
Includes bibliographical references and index.
Main Author
Scott S. Cowen (author)
Other Authors
Betsy Seifter (author)
  • On impact
  • Door wide open
  • Keeping the ship afloat
  • The tail wags the dog, part I : athletics
  • The tail wags the dog, part II : medicine
  • Brave new world : innovation and scholarship
  • Can we all get along?
  • The ivory tower
  • Who are we?
  • Presidential leadership : character and context.
Review by Library Journal Reviews

After a distinguished career as a professor and dean at Case Western Reserve University and 16 years as president of Tulane University, Cowen still believes strongly in the positive role of higher education. The author describes general challenges to increase diversity, manage costs, and help low-income students enter and succeed in college. Beyond the broad picture, he presents the issues larger universities face in managing high-profile sports programs, and how medical schools deal with complex financial and organizational challenges. Cowen provides numerous examples of innovative institutions that have created new programs leading to student achievement and praises those with productive community relationships. He stresses the role of visionaries in academia, introducing successful national leaders from different schools and telling his own story of rebuilding Tulane after it was flooded and almost destroyed by Hurricane Katrina. VERDICT An experienced university president provides an insightful overview of the challenges facing higher education along with varied examples of innovative efforts to fulfill the vital role that higher education must play in a thriving society.—Elizabeth Hayford, formerly with Associated Coll. of the Midwest, Evanston, IL Copyright 2018 Library Journal.

Review by Publisher Summary 1

Why a strong mission and inspired leadership are vital to the success of America’s colleges and universitiesIn 1998, soon after assuming the presidency of Tulane University, Scott Cowen was confronted with a setback. Despite an undefeated football season and putting the best financial deal on the table, Cowen was unable to retain the school's football coach. The coach wanted something the president didn't have--a football program so popular, as the coach put it, that fans would line up their Winnebagos on Wednesdays in anticipation of Saturday games. In that moment, Cowen improbably found himself in the entertainment business—and his university was deemed wanting.At a time when schools seem overrun by sports programs, spiraling costs, and absurd ranking systems, Winnebagos on Wednesdays argues that colleges and universities of all stripes and sizes can achieve their educational aims if they possess two things: visionary leadership and a strong mission. Cowen, named one of the nation's top university presidents by Time magazine in 2009, gives a behind-the-scenes look at the critical demands faced by many education leaders. He profiles a range of situations, from how Diana Natalicio of the University of Texas at El Paso expanded a school serving a specific demographic into an academic powerhouse to how Michael Sorrell shifted Paul Quinn College's mission to urban entrepreneurship in order to save the institution. Cowen also draws from his own hard-won experiences, including the rebuilding of Tulane and New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina and the decision to maintain Tulane's football program. He shows how crucial choices in tough situations shape organizations, for better or ill.A sweeping overview of the higher education landscape, Winnebagos on Wednesdays demonstrates that the courage of transformative leadership is essential for colleges and universities to remain vital.