An Interview with Author Will Wootton

What is the single most important reason why you wrote this book?

Writing a textbook addressing the essential elements of non-profit administration which inadvertently transforms itself into memoir is mysterious and complex, but no more or less satisfying than completing a novel, or an ambitious series of short stories, or a book of poems, or short prose. Put simply, the reason to write something, anything, is to write. 

Getting your work published, however, is a different story, a process almost completely out of your control, and thus while thrilling and (the first time, at least) educationally potent, cannot compare to the satisfaction of completing an entire manuscript.

What is the most important takeaway from this book that you would share with a new, inexperienced president on his or first day in the position?

Stand up straight, smile, listen, and do not, as I did, introduce yourself to someone who informs you, dourly, that he was on the search committee. But really, just remember they hired you and, for a moment at least, everybody is pulling for you. Enjoy it. Everything else will follow.

As a member of The Registry, what is perhaps an overlooked advantage an interim president or provost can contribute that a permanent administrator cannot?

An interim’s ego is, or should be, wholly under control, having been there, and having a clear understanding of the interim part of interim. 

An experienced interim president is not susceptible to the stresses that inevitably inflict a new president, and thus he or she can focus on the most relevant or important problems or issues, with some anticipation of relieving the new permanent president of initiating those changes. And I think regarding governance, an interim can speak to and with boards and individual trustees in a different manner, from a different angle, and within a compressed time frame, that a new president cannot, or probably should not.

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