RHPA Mentorship Program

Posted June 1, 2016

R. H. Perry & Associates offers a new and innovative Mentorship Program, a service that provides first-time presidents with guidance from an experienced former president.  Senior Consultant Dr. Roger Martin, a former Harvard dean and 20-year college president, directs the program.  It will help new presidents avoid the pitfalls of the first year that can undermine a presidency.  Dr. Martin has written extensively about the college presidency and is the author of two books on higher education.

To review Dr. Martin’s full biography, click here.

We provide this service because the changing landscape within the academy and the pressures these changes cause can often have an adverse effect upon even the most talented presidents.  Premature departure by presidents results in a ripple effect in the entire institutional community.  These premature departures often find their genesis in the first few months of the new president's appointment, when ill-informed decisions can sometimes spell disaster.  Our Mentorship Program provides guidance that can virtually eliminate the chance of this happening.

The Process.  After engagement by the Board and with the new president’s agreement, Dr. Martin meets personally with the new president on a quarterly basis. 

The First Visit occurs one month after the new president assumes office, usually sometime mid-summer.  During this initial session the Mentor:

  • Learns about the institution and campus community, and about any pressing issues, potential and financial challenges that need attention immediately or in the near term.
  • Gives the new president an outsider’s perspective on senior personnel and existing administrative structures (including known staff issues).
  • Uses his or her extensive experience to serve as an emissary, working in a supportive and advisory role to solidify the new presidential administration.

Following the first visit, and throughout the contractual period, the relationship is carried on via e-mail or over the telephone. Dr. Martin makes himself available to his clients “24-7” which can be critically important when one of those "crisis management" issues surface – as they inevitably will.

The Second Visit occurs in the middle of the first semester.  By now, the new president has a general sense of any issues that may need to be resolved as well as myriad questions about a variety of issues: time management, capital campaign planning, strategic planning, etc. The second campus visit is a good time to review:

  • Staffing
  • Any necessary restructuring
  • The new president’s emerging institutional vision

The Third Visit occurs at the start of the second semester when changes have been implemented – often resulting in some negative reaction – and when the new president begins to formulate how s/he will articulate the institutional vision in the inaugural address.  The third visit is an opportunity to:

  • Assist the new president in processing negative feedback and how to appropriately deal with it.
  • Help solidify the president's professional relationship with all of the constituent groups, particularly the faculty.
  • Assist in planning the upcoming inaugural address, when the finalized institutional vision will be unveiled, by serving as a constructive critic and editor.

The Fourth, and final, visit occurs near commencement.  The fourth visit is an opportunity to

  • Meet with selected faculty, staff and members of the community to obtain their feedback on the past year.
  • Meet with the Board Chair and key Board members to get a sense of momentum (or lack of).  This information often proves most helpful in the Board Chairs’ evaluation of the presidents first year in office, and can be incorporated into future administration planning.

For more information about R. H. Perry & Associates’ Mentorship Program and to set up an informational session, please email Dr. Martin at rmartin@rhperry.comor by phone at 914-777-1644.