American College President Study 2017

June 2017

As market forces continue to reshape the higher education landscape, understanding the U.S. college presidency – and its inherent challenges and opportunities – is more important than ever.


The 2017 edition of the American College President Study provides the most comprehensive examination to date of American college and university presidents. In addition to examining presidential demographics, search and selection processes, career trajectories, and duties and responsibilities, this eighth edition of the study explores presidents’ views on diversity and inclusion, state funding, the political climate, and important future considerations. The 2017 edition was produced by the American Council on Education (ACE) in partnership with the TIAA Institute​.  

Please visit ACE's website for additional information on the report or the interactive data tool, and to purchase your copy of the report.

Join us for an American College President Study 2017 Webinar on September 28 at 1 p.m. EDT!  The American Council on Education's Center for Policy Research and Strategy will run a free, one-hour webinar to discuss the ACPS’s key findings. To register or learn more, visit the webinar’s registration page.

Key Insights
The average president is age 62, a full decade older than the average age 30 years ago.
More than half of today’s presidents (54%) expect to step down within five years, presenting an opportunity for diversification.
The percentage of women holding the top job at colleges and universities stood at 30 percent in 2016, up just four percentage points from 2011.
The percentage of college presidents who were minorities also increased by four percentage points, from 13 percent in 2011 to 17 percent in 2016.​​
Most presidents believe revenues from private gifts, grants and contracts; tuition and fees; and endowment income are all likely to increase in the next five years.

The study’s findings are based on a national survey administered in 2016. Survey respondents include 1,546 college and university presidents, chancellors and CEOs at various types of public and private institutions across the United States.