Paul L. Caron

Wednesday, December 14, 2022

May It Please The Campus: Lawyers Leading Higher Education

Patricia E. Salkin (Touro), May It Please the Campus: Lawyers Leading Higher Education (Touro University Press 2022):

May it please the campusThis is a groundbreaking study on the important and little known role that lawyers have played as leaders in higher education.

The book traces the history of lawyer campus presidents from the 1700s to present, exploring dozens of topics such as: where lawyer presidents went to law school; the percentage of lawyer presidents serving at public, private, community, HBCUs, and religiously affiliated institutions; geographic concentrations of campuses led by lawyers, women lawyer presidents, pathways to the presidency for lawyers, commonalities in backgrounds, and more. The author explores reasons for an exponential increase in lawyers serving as campus leaders examining the growth of legal education and myriad legal and regulatory issues confronting higher education.


Dr. Salkin’s important book is original, engaging, provocative, comprehensive, and data driven. It’s a must read for anyone who cares about academic leadership and the future of higher education at a time when the only constants are accelerating change, daunting (often unexpected) crises, and proliferating regulation and legal challenges. Dr. Salkin provides us an invaluable resource for finding the right kind of lawyers who have the ‘Swiss-army-knife’-type professional tool kit and temperament to handle the myriad demands of academic administrative jobs.

More broadly, given its historical sweep and insightful analysis of ample data, May It Please the Campus could soon become an essential guide for how to think about, refresh, and improve every facet of talent acquisition in academic settings.
Nick Allard, Founding Dean, Jacksonville University College of Law, Former President and Dean, Brooklyn Law School

Salkin demonstrates that lawyers’ skillsets make them particularly well equipped to handle the dynamic challenges facing university and college presidents. She also shows variances among types of schools, career paths, race, and sex, thereby revealing where legal training is most salient and, arguably, correlates with success as a candidate and a serving president.
Salkin has assembled a broad database, enhanced with scholarly references, participant quotes, and relevant anecdotes to illustrate key points. It is comprehensive, exploring the wide range of factors bearing on leadership challenges in higher education.
This is a valuable addition to the literature, and an especially helpful guide to those exploring leadership roles or participating in selection of leaders in our country’s colleges and universities.

Timothy Fisher, Professor of Law and former Dean, University of Connecticut School of Law

Dr. Salkin provides a wonderful new resource on an important trend in higher education leadership. She combines extensive new data―reaching from the 1700s all the way to the most recent decades, and analyzed from multiple angles―with thoughtful analysis of the reasons why attorneys may be selected for, and succeed at, college and university top leadership roles. Dr. Salkin’s book is both insightful and inspiring, and its grounding in detailed historical facts should provide the basis for further analyses within higher education leadership studies. Her book is chock full of great history and context for all of higher education, not just its attorney leaders.
William F. Howard, Attorney, Senior Consultant for Academic Search, Inc., and former SUNY Senior Vice Chancellor

Dr. Patricia Salkin’s May it Please the Campus: Lawyers Leading Higher Education is a highly readable examination of a phenomenon that is shaping higher education―the rise of the lawyer president. Through extensive original research, Dr. Salkin reveals the extent to which universities and colleges have reshaped the traditional profile for presidencies to include leaders trained in law. What’s more, Dr. Salkin probes the reasons behind the phenomenon to suggest why colleges and universities are selecting leaders trained differently than their predecessors. This book will be of interest to higher education leaders, recruiters, and individuals seeking college and university presidencies.
Alicia Ouellette, President and Dean, Albany Law School

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