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College Chancellor Job Description

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College chancellors are senior administrators responsible for leading, guiding and mentoring staff, faculty and students. They spearhead the growth of these institutions to academic excellence by developing a vision plan and creating linkages with external organizations. These professionals can be hired by standalone colleges, as well as universities with multiple campuses. In the latter setting, chancellors typically head the campuses and report to the system’s president.

Using the Essential Skills

Many colleges are multifaceted institutions with several academic units. As such, chancellors require exceptional leadership skills to effectively control these units, ensuring they work together toward a common goal. Competent chancellors are often skilled decision-makers and adept problem-solvers. When faculty members threaten to strike, for instance, the chancellors must strive to address their concerns and reach an amicable solution. Interpersonal and communication skills are also useful to chancellors, since their ability to forge successful relationships with staff members can be a foundation for a successful career.

Promoting Academic Excellence

The chief responsibility of a college chancellor is to work toward achieving the institution’s educational objectives. This comes with several tasks, including budget planning, resource management and policy-making. In a newly established college, for example, the chancellor must create a framework detailing the administrative structure and oversee the hiring of senior staff, such as directors of communications, enrollment and student affairs. He then leads the planning of academic and research programs, making sure they meet local and national education standards. College chancellors also cultivate a collaborative and diverse workplace, and a supportive learning environment for students.

Providing Advocacy

College chancellors also serve as advocates, representing the institutions in educational seminars and leadership conferences. They also focus on creating productive partnerships with alumni groups, research organizations, professional associations, corporate firms and government agencies. Chancellors often use this opportunity to seek financial support, which the colleges can use to invest in research and teaching facilities. Those who work for colleges that are part of a multi-campus university also have a duty to keep the system president updated on major developments in the institution.

Getting There

Chancellors are highly educated professionals with vast research and administrative experience. Many colleges prefer individuals with a doctoral degree in a specific academic field. For example, nursing colleges often hire chancellors with a PhD in nursing while business colleges prefer individuals with a doctorate in business. As a result, aspiring chancellors typically begin as faculty lecturers or administrators and work their way up with a gain in experience and advanced qualifications. Several universities offer postgraduate educational leadership certificates, which chancellors can combine with vast experience to become system presidents.


Based in New York City, Alison Green has been writing professionally on career topics for more than a decade. Her work has appeared in “U.S. News Weekly” magazine, “The Career” magazine and “Human Resources Journal.” Green holds a master's degree in finance from New York University.

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