This comment from 2008 captures a part, I suspect, of why Nancy Roseman was such a failure at Dickinson.

An effective head of an organization has to be able to maintain good relations with a whole range of people, in this case including faculty, students, and parents. Being able to reliably kiss donor ass is not sufficient if you lack the personality to get faculty, students, and the larger community on board with your strategy.

Take a look at cluster housing. Would you say the implementation of cluster housing was an example of effective executive decision-making? That process was the most major project that Roseman drove during my time at Williams, and it bore her hallmarks: planned out in secret with little chance for outsiders to give any input, implemented in a rush with total indifference towards student or faculty opinion, and an utter flop within two years of implementation.

I believe that someone with better ‘marketing’ and ‘people’ skills would have been much more successful at implementing something like cluster housing. The plan might still have had substantive problems, but Roseman utterly and totally failed to generate student buy-in, primarily because it was obvious that she was basically indifferent to what students had to say.

There is a kernel of truth in what David has said. She does not welcome or respect student participation when it comes to any kind of major decision. Her publicly expressed contempt for blogs does, I believe, reflect a broader dislike for open discussion. While this might, in theory, make her more suitable as a high school administrator – I sincerely doubt that the kids at Exeter are the docile and passive type of high schooler who will take her high-handedness lying down.

To the trustees and administrators of PEA: While Nancy Roseman is a smart, competent person, she is not a great leader. You can do better.

Prescient! Prior discussion of Roseman’s failure at Dickison here and here.

The other finalist for the Dickinson job was Mark Burnstein, who went on to become president of Lawrence University. Bet the Dickinson trustees wish they had picked him instead!

Question: If Roseman is no longer president, when does her fat presidential salary stop? And what is her new professor of biology salary? These sorts of messy issues rarely come up because very few college presidents are fired. Given today’s academic job market — and Roseman’s obvious failure as a senior administrator — what sort of options will she have? Informed commentary welcome!

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