Universities have been around for a millennium, however their modern iteration – and the people who lead them – are somewhat different to their medieval European ancestors. Over the centuries, institutions have dealt with a multitude of difficulties but the current combination of a pandemic, climate crisis, economic downturn and populist politics seems particularly challenging. So what sort of leader does the moment call for? And how are senior figures in higher education responding to the issues of the day?

Leadership expert Jon McNaughtan, associate professor and associate department chair in Texas Tech University’s College of Education, joins the podcast to explain how the job of university president has changed over the decades, what type of leadership is required right now and how to know when to step away. Joy Johnson, president and vice-chancellor at Simon Fraser University, shares what it’s like being a rare female leader and how she approaches housing shortages and the politics around recruiting international students.


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