Talk:Chancellor (education)

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to: navigation, search
WikiProject Education (Rated Start-class, Mid-importance)
WikiProject icon This article is within the scope of WikiProject Education, a collaborative effort to improve the coverage of education and education-related topics on Wikipedia. If you would like to participate, please visit the project page, where you can join the discussion and see a list of open tasks.
Start-Class article Start  This article has been rated as Start-Class on the project's quality scale.
 Mid  This article has been rated as Mid-importance on the project's importance scale.
WikiProject Universities (Rated Start-class)
WikiProject icon This article is within the scope of WikiProject Universities, a collaborative effort to improve the coverage of universities and colleges on Wikipedia. If you would like to participate, please visit the project page, where you can join the discussion and see a list of open tasks.
Start-Class article Start  This article has been rated as Start-Class on the project's quality scale.

Find sources: "Chancellor" education – news · newspapers · books · scholar · HighBeam · JSTOR · free images · free news sources · The Wikipedia Library · NYT · WP reference

Proposed name[edit]

As there are so many different names, it might make sense to go with the actual function as the name of the article. The function of the Chancellor, Vice-Chancellor, President or Principal is "chief executive of a university" so University chief executive would be clearer. SilkTork *YES! 17:08, 1 December 2009 (UTC)

Actually, in the U.S., the chancellor is rarely the chief executive[edit]

I challenge the statement "In the form used in countries such as the United States, the Chancellor is the chief executive of a university." This is simply not true. In the vast, vast majority of American universities and colleges, the chief executive is the President. Look at any random dozen entries from Category:Universities and colleges in the United States and the chief executive is virtually always the president. Actually, the main use of "chancellor" in the United States is in large multi-university systems, and within such system the practice varies, as already reflected in the article. In some cases, like the University of California system, the system is run by a president and each individual campus is headed by a chancellor. In other cases, like the California State University system, the opposite is true: the overall head is a chancellor and each individual campus is headed by a president. In still other cases like the University of Texas system, the overall head of the system and the heads of the individual campuses are all presidents. But as for freestanding American universities and colleges, it's hard to even find an example where the chief executive is a Chancellor. If someone can come up with a few examples of such, it might suggest how to reword this section. --MelanieN (talk) 17:40, 17 May 2012 (UTC)

The current description in the lead section is definitely incorrect as regards U.S. usage. The problem seems to have arisen in this series of edits in December 2009, as part of a massive well-intentioned effort to merge all or parts of University president, Director (education), Principal (university), Vice-Chancellor, and possibly other articles into this article. Prior to that merger, this article correctly described the U.S. usage. Since then, the article has been inaccurate. --Orlady (talk) 18:18, 17 May 2012 (UTC)
IMO, it would be best to recreate University president as a separate article. (Currently it is a redirect to its article.) The lead for this article then could be revised to say something like this:
A Chancellor is a leader of a university, either the executive or ceremonial head of the university or a university campus.
In most Commonwealth (or former Commonwealth) nations, the Chancellor is usually a titular (ceremonial figurehead) non-resident head of the university. In such institutions, the chief executive of a university is the Vice-Chancellor, who may also carry a title such as the alternates listed above (such as "President & Vice-Chancellor"). The Chancellor may serve as chairman of the governing body (the council or board of governors); if not, this duty is often held by a chairman who may be known as a Pro-Chancellor.
In many countries, the administrative and educational head of the university is known as the president, principal or rector. In United States, the head of a university is most commonly a university president. In U.S. university systems that have more than one affiliated university or campus, the executive head of a specific university has the title of Chancellor and reports to the system's President.
The merger seems to have been motivated by a conviction that the position of head of a university is essentially the same everywhere and that "chancellor" is a sufficiently universal term that it can be used to describe that position in a single global article that discusses variations in terminology and duties. The reality, however, is that the word is used with sufficiently different meanings in different places that an erroneous jumble resulted when all of the different meanings of "chancellor" and all of the different roles for university heads were rolled into a single omnibus article. --Orlady (talk) 18:59, 17 May 2012 (UTC)
I like that, except that the final sentence needs to allow for the variations in the multi-campus system. Something like "In U.S. university systems that have more than one affiliated university or campus, the executive head of a specific campus may have the title of Chancellor and report to the overall system's President, or vice versa."
Also, should it say "college or university"?
You are right that the word Chancellor carries widely varying meanings, at least in the U.S.. This was called to my attention by an AfD discussion in which an American college president stepped down as president and was then named to the newly created post of chancellor. Someone argued (basing their reasoning on this article) that this was a promotion and that the person would have authority over the new president - whereas it was clear from the documentation that the trustees were simply creating the position of "chancellor" as a form of honorable retirement, something like "president emeritus".
I agree that trying to combine all university CEOs into one article called "chancellor" may have created a monster. I see that back when the consolidation was done, someone suggested that the title should be "University chief executive" but I doubt if that would achieve consensus. --MelanieN (talk) 19:45, 17 May 2012 (UTC)
Your wording is more accurate than mine was. (There are many good reasons why I wrote it on the talk page, and not in an article!) Looking at various articles, I realize that university infoboxes that list both a president and a chancellor always place the chancellor above the president -- even when that's not correct, apparently because this article indicated that this is the correct ranking. --Orlady (talk) 21:01, 17 May 2012 (UTC)
I think it's not a matter of "correct" or "incorrect" ranking, because I think it is very rare for a university or college to have both a chancellor and a president - so neither has command over the other. One or the other line in the infobox will get filled in, but almost never both. (The exception appears to be Catholic universities, where the Chancellor has a very specifically defined role, but the president is the CEO.) As we have both noted, the most common title for the head of an American university is "president". The most common title for the second in command appears to be "Provost (education)", or occasionally some variation of "vice president" or "dean." --MelanieN (talk) 22:14, 17 May 2012 (UTC)
Schools I found that list both a president and a chancellor in the infobox include Tennessee State University (whose listed "chancellor" is actually the "chancellor" of the Tennessee Board of Regents), Louisiana State University (where leadership has recently changed, so I'm thoroughly confused), Liberty University (where one person holds both titles), and Lubbock Christian University (where it looks like the former president may have been designated "chancellor" in order to retire without leaving the building). By default, the infobox puts all of these chancellors above the president. --Orlady (talk) 22:48, 17 May 2012 (UTC)
The article also mentions the College of William and Mary, where the chancellor is a largely ceremonial post. But I don't really have a problem with the order of the listings in the university infobox, which is designed for all countries, not just the U.S.
Actually as I read through the various countries listed in the article, it's surprising how many of them say that the chancellor is a ceremonial or non-administrative post. And yet this is the title under which all the various university CEOs were lumped. Maybe the idea of an article titled University chief executive, with everything redirecting to it, is the way to go after all. Or as you suggested, a separate article University president. Or at the very least a much more prominent treatment of "president" in this article. In any case, and without needing a lot of discussion, let's redo the opening statement about how things are done in the United States, along the lines that you suggested. --MelanieN (talk) 14:26, 18 May 2012 (UTC)
Green tickY I just redid the lead section per discussion here. Other issues can continue to be discussed. --MelanieN (talk) 19:10, 19 May 2012 (UTC)
  • If the above is correct then I support the proposal. The difficulty is that according to the unsourced article as it stood when merged [1], there was no clear consistency in the USA as regards the role of Chancellor and President, and it appeared that the matter could be more appropriately dealt in context in the same place. We would need good reliable sources to define the roles, and then decide if President is simply another name for the Chancellor role, and ultimately they are names for the same role - the leader/highest ranking officer/chief executive of a university. What sources are people working from at the moment? SilkTork ✔Tea time 20:11, 17 May 2012 (UTC)
  • U.S. universities aren't under a single authority, so there is no authoritative manual of organization applicable to all U.S. universities. However, List of leaders of universities and colleges in the United States provides a good overview of the nomenclature that is used for the leadership of universities. A quick skim through that list indicates that "president" is the name used almost everywhere for the highest-level leader. The term "Chancellor" appears on that list almost exclusively in connection with multi-university systems. The majority of such systems use the title "Chancellor" for the heads of the component universities and call the system head "President" (examples include Universities of California, Colorado, Illinois, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Nebraska, Tennessee, and Wisconsin), while a significant number use the title "President" for the heads of the component universities and call the system head "Chancellor" (examples include Universities of Alabama and Maine, California State University, State University of New York, the Tennessee Board of Regents system, and all of the various state university systems in Texas). A few unitary universities use "Chancellor" for the top person; these exceptions include Vanderbilt University and Sewanee: The University of the South, which has a peculiar arrangement that is described in the current version of this article. Some individual schools on the list that are identified as headed by a "Chancellor" are in fact members of university systems.
IMO, regardless of how the article is structured, the U.S. situation is best described largely through the liberal use of documented examples. --Orlady (talk) 20:46, 17 May 2012 (UTC)
There seems to have been remarkably little written about the structure and function of university administration, either at Google Books or Google Scholar. Here is a 1974 book called "Leadership and Ambiguity: The American College President", but I couldn't find much more. (Couldn't find anything at all about Chancellors.) I think we are going to have to write this, as Orlady suggests, by observation and example. --MelanieN (talk) 22:32, 17 May 2012 (UTC)
I dispute that claim; in the course of my Master's and doctoral programs in higher education I've been required to read many books written about college and university leadership, administration, and organization. However, I can't recall anything that specifically discusses this bit of trivia as it seems to be common knowledge among higher ed scholars and administrators. One quick source that supports the current contention (that "president" is the dominant title of the chief executive at most U.S. institutions) is the annual survey of chief executive pay performed each year by the Chronicle of Higher Education: Note that throughout the tables and related articles they almost exclusively use "president." ElKevbo (talk) 22:27, 9 June 2012 (UTC)
In the US, yes chancellors are chief executives or mainly chief or senior administrators at the universities. See: (talk) 00:58, 9 June 2012 (UTC)

Thanks for these examples. I think they are already adequately covered in the U.S. section, which in particular points out that multi-campus state universities like Cal State or CUNY may have a both a "chancellor" and a "president" - with one being the overall head while the others serve as heads of individual campuses. --MelanieN (talk) 02:02, 9 June 2012 (UTC)


Considering that the other names for a top leader of a university mentioned in the article, namely Rector (academia) and Principal (academia), have their own Wikipedia articles, it doesn't make a lot of sense to me that we don't have an article for University president. --MelanieN (talk) 18:59, 19 May 2012 (UTC)\

Restore University President Article[edit]

Just to throw my two bits in. I strongly concur with the apparent consensus that the University President article needs to be restored. I was recently performing research on this topic and was utterly stymied by the redirection to a page that forces non-standard nomenclature on the US system. Typical users will not be able to make sense of the current article, and US users will be disappointed in their search for information on the US system. Perhaps a good compromise would be to create an article titled University President (United States) and use a disambiguation page to help those searching for the varying international models. Greg.Hartley (talk)15:11, 6 June 2013 (UTC)