In a recent article in Inside Higher Ed, William G. Tierney, professor at the University of Southern California, posits the question of why university presidents resign or are fired. Using examples of recent high-profile presidential resignations, Tierney argues that commonly blamed factors are not the true cause of presidential downfalls.
Tierney highlights four factors that are often blamed for presidential resignations or firings: the structure of the board; conflicts among the faculty, board, and administration; problematic presidential personalities; and presidential abuse. However, he argues that these aren't typically the real reasons; rather, he argues that these schools are deficient in shared governance. Specifically, he says, the faculty and boards of these schools have ceded too much power to administrators.
To correct the imbalance, Tierney recommends "an acknowledgement that 'shared' governance suggests that faculty members are active decision makers. Faculty members will see issues differently from administrators or the board -- and that is not a bad thing. Different perspectives enable creative conflict to occur, and out of that comes more informed decision making and more involvement from all constituencies."
To read Tierney's full argument, read "Why University Presidents Are (and Aren’t) Losing Their Jobs."