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A Special Role for College Presidents

"It has been my experience, both on campus and in the community, that invitations on presidential letterhead result in greater participation in our efforts than otherwise have been the case."

Susan Resneck Pierce, President
University of Puget Sound

Photo of student painting.In the Task Force's view, presidential leadership is essential to ensure that recommendations relevant to each college and university are incorporated into its alcohol abuse prevention program planning process. As a school's chief executive officer, educational leader, and public spokesperson, a president is expected to set priorities, serve as a catalyst for new programs, and communicate concern about issues compromising the educational environment (DeJong, 1998). By virtue of their authority, presidents can pull together all the disparate pieces of institutional policy on alcohol from student life, athletics, administrative affairs, and residence life. Once new or refined policies and practices are in place, their position helps ensure that every sector of the college implements the new procedures (Mara, 2000; DeJong, 1998).

Presidential visibility and influence also lend increased importance to prevention efforts on campus and in the community and promote student as well as faculty investment in and ownership of programs. According to the project director of Louisiana State University's Community Coalition for Change, students deem it an "honor" to participate on the college prevention task force when the school president calls for their involvement and conveys personal commitment to the issue.

The Task Force recognizes that although research can provide useful guidance to colleges and universities in addressing the consequences of high-risk student drinking, presidential leadership is crucial to set plans in motion and support the actions needed to reverse the culture of drinking on campus.


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Historical document
Last reviewed: 9/23/2005

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