Presidential Leadership in Crisis: Sustaining Self and the Future of the Profession

A Virtual Town Hall for College/University Presidents and the Office Staff who Support Their Work

October 24, 2022

Strong leadership is essential to the future thriving of higher education. But, a college presidency has never been an easy job. Recent realities have only added to the complexity and precarity of the position: an ongoing pandemic; violence on campus, including gun violence, domestic violence, bomb threats, and acts of racism; government intrusion into campus speech, campus policies, and curricula; judicial decisions causing burgeoning uncertainty for those most marginalized on our campuses, including women, people of color, low-income families, and immigrants; and political division that threatens healthy dialogue and critical inquiry. How can college presidents successfully lead through these crises? Who will aspire to this increasingly difficult role?

This conversation is intended for presidents and those who support their leadership. Through reflections from current presidents and conversation with colleagues, this event engages some of the following questions:

  • How do presidents maintain their own well-being amid stress and burnout?
  • How do presidents navigate culture wars—cultural conflict between social groups and the struggle for dominance of their values, beliefs, and practices?
  • How do we use the presidential voice in a politically divided time?

This town hall was presented by the AAC&U Presidents' Trust, a diverse network of higher education leaders who advance the vision, values, and practices that connect liberal education with the needs of an increasingly diverse student body, a global workforce, and thriving communities. Through the generous support of Credo, this recording is available free to all college and university presidents and the office staff who support their work.

About AAC&U

AAC&U advances the democratic purposes of higher education by promoting equity, innovation, and excellence in liberal education. The AAC&U Presidents' Trust brings together leaders of institutions of all types and sizes from across the global higher education landscape to share ideas, address common challenges, and advance shared objectives. As a voice and a force for liberal education, the Presidents' Trust champions equity, academic quality, and student success.

About Credo

With a vision to impact one million learners, Credo partners with higher education leaders to create transformational student experiences and outcomes through a focus on strategy, leadership, and culture.


  • Lynn Pasquerella

    Lynn Pasquerella

    President, AAC&U
  • Joretta Nelson

    Joretta Nelson

    Vice Chairman & Founder of Moving the Needle/Owner, Credo
  • Emma Jones

    Emma Jones

    Executive Vice President/Owner, Credo


  • Barbara Farley

    Barbara Farley

    President, Illinois College
  • Marjorie Hass

    Marjorie Hass

    President, Council of Independent Colleges
  • Larry Johnson

    Larry Johnson

    President, Guttman Community College
  • Suzanne Johnson

    Suzanne Johnson

    President, Green River College

Planned Agenda

2:00 - 2:05 p.m. ET
Welcome & Introduction to Presidents' Trust
Presenter: Lynn Pasquerella, President, AAC&U
2:05 - 2:15 p.m. ET
Framing Context & Overview of Town Hall Format
  • Joretta Nelson, Vice Chairman & Founder of Moving the Needle/Owner, Credo
  • Emma Jones, Executive Vice President/Owner, Credo
2:15 - 3:15 p.m. ET
Discussion by Higher Education Leaders
  • Barbara Farley, President, Illinois College
  • Marjorie Hass, President, Council of Independent Colleges
  • Larry Johnson, President, Guttman Community College
  • Suzanne Johnson, President, Green River College
  • Lynn Pasquerella
3:15 - 4:00 p.m. ET
Guided Reflection & Break-Out Conversations
Facilitators: Joretta Nelson and Emma Jones
4:00 p.m. ET
Presenter: Lynn Pasquerella