Despite multiple reports of racial tension on college campuses, U.S. college and university presidents rated race relations at their own institutions as mostly “good” or “excellent,” while indicating awareness that that is not the case nationwide, according to the 2016 Inside Higher Ed Survey of College and University Presidents.

The sixth annual survey, sponsored in part by Hobsons, was conducted by Inside Higher Ed and Hobsons partner Gallup and included responses from more than 700 college and university presidents. Released in conjunction with the annual meeting of the American Council on Education in San Francisco, the survey offers insight into how college and university leaders perceive and address the challenges facing postsecondary institutions in the United States. Besides views on race relations, the report shares the pulse of college presidents on issues like higher education policy, the financial stability of their institutions, and gun control on campus. Key findings include:

  • Race Relations: College and university presidents continue to view race relations as excellent or good at their own institutions. However, leaders are much less positive about the state of race relations at colleges nationwide, with only 24 percent viewing them as excellent or good.
  • Presidential Selection: The increasing debate on hiring presidents without academic leadership experience is top of mind for campus leaders. Fifty-four percent of college presidents strongly agree or agree the traditional emphasis on hiring presidents with extensive careers in academe is appropriate, while 22 percent strongly disagree or disagree. Forty-seven percent of presidents strongly agree or agree that college presidents should have a Ph.D., compared with 32 percent who strongly disagree or disagree.
  • College Scorecard: In September 2015, the Obama administration released the revised College Scorecard website, providing information about colleges to help parents and prospective students make college decisions. College presidents doubt the accuracy of the Scorecard information and only 11 percent of respondents strongly agree or agree the Scorecard will help families make better-informed decisions.
  • President Obama and Higher Education: Survey respondents gave President Obama roughly a “C” grade for his overall treatment of higher education, with presidents at public colleges giving him higher ratings than those at private colleges.
  • Guns on Campus: Sixty-nine percent of presidents strongly agree and 18 percent agree that allowing students to carry concealed weapons on campus will endanger students and faculty members.
  • Budget and Finances: Nearly six in 10 presidents agreed or strongly agreed that they were confident in the sustainability of their college's financial model over five years, and 48 percent expressed such confidence over 10 years.

 Download the report for a complete look at the survey findings.

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