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Leadership quality required of a university president in China: The new version in the 1990s
Higher education
Leadership quality
Academic leadership
University administration
Issue Date: 
Zhang, Y. (1996, November). Leadership quality required of a university president in China: The new version in the 1990s. Paper presented at the ERA-AARE Joint Conference, Singapore.
The science of leadership became a new research
frontier with the academics in the People's Republic of China since the late 1980s. University presidents' quality of leadership has attracted close attention from scholars in research institutions as well as many university presidents themselves. The higher education system in China is experiencing a period of restructuring and re-adjustment in large scale since the last decade--macro restructuring that includes nationwide upgrading and establishing institutions of higher learning (1,054 by the year 1996); and micro-restructuring that consists of departmental and curricular revision within colleges and universities, to meet an increasing demand for changes of the functions of these institutions so as to adjust to the rapidly
changing social and economic systems. The most striking phenomenon in higher education administration has been a switch of power-authority at the top of a university's leadership, i.e., redefinition of the role and functions of the president in the hierarchy of administrative structure. The constitutional change is that the president has risen from the traditionally secondary position to virtually the primary position, while the Communist Party secretary steps aside from the supreme leading position to assume supervisory functions. In this context, this paper tries to address the challenges of presidency in the new power-authority allocation within institutions of higher learning, to describe the demands of
strong leadership of presidents from the society, and to identify strong leadership qualities. This paper bares the result of a research project on leadership quality of university presidents in the 1990s, based on 1) a literature review of recent research findings; and 2) interviews through correspondence with the presidents of some renowned universities in the cities of Xi'an,
Beijing, Dalian, and Guangzhou. The main questions include: 1)what are the basic and crucial qualities a strong university leader must possess? 2) what personal and professional qualifications university presidents are expected to have? and 3)how different are faculties' expectations of their leaders at present from a decade ago?
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