Book Review: Good Fortune Next Time

Author: Mr. Will Wootton
Publisher: Mandel Vilar Press and Dryad Press
Reviewer: Dr. R. Fred Zuker

Will Wootton’s book is a study of life and leadership.  Will avoids the dustiness of a full-blown “how to” management book and the self-absorption of the memoir by combining the two into a readable useful account of his professional life enlivened by intertwining his life throughout.  The book is personal but also a useful reference for the higher education professional.  In fact, the personal touch makes it real to anyone who has been in the top-level academic leadership role or has hope of someday joining those beleaguered ranks.

Will offers gems of administrative wisdom that apply across the span of private college leadership.  He makes it clear that his career has been centered on the small, private liberal arts institutions.

On Leadership:  Critical to leadership are the qualities of discipline, focus, determination, sense of humor and awareness of your world.  One refrain was the dedication Will had to the work.  He planned his work and worked the plan with total dedication.  He states that those interested in becoming a college president should take a close undistorted look at themselves and the real demands of such a job.  

On Board Management:  New presidents are handed an existing Board but must go about knowing the Board members and remember the role of president to the Board and how that interaction is pre-set and difficult to change.  Presidents work for Boards and Boards must be willing to work for the institution if they are to be effective.  The president must figure out how to do help that happen

As president of Sterling College in Vermont,  Will developed a “strategy of survival” when times were bad.  He brought his well-honed advancement skills to bear on identifying every possible means to resolve the fiscal emergency of the college.  His narrative of this approach is a primer for any college president beset on all sides by the threat of ruin.

Will’s book offers keen insights into the highest and toughest levels of academic leadership.  He does so in a style that is at once easily accessible, enjoyable, and inspirational.  It is our good fortune that he put himself to the task of writing his book.

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