My daily post theme for 2017 is on Colleges and Universities.
The plan for starting my blog back in 2014 was at the urging of fellow coaching colleagues to share posts on leadership and/or motivation. Somehow that idea got derailed and turned into daily posts on one theme for an entire year.
In 2014 my daily posts were on the “Beer of the Day”, 2015 it was “A Friend of a Friend”, 2016 I wrote about “North Carolina”, and for 2017 I will focus on “Colleges and Universities”.
I have been associated with colleges since I was 18 and I love them. I have coached/worked at four different universities and in my professional and personal travels visited 100’s more. Each college has something in its history that I want to share that to me make it unique or personal.
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Name of University: Columbia University
Location: New York NY
On the corner of 116th St and Broadway in New York City sits Columbia University.
I was watching a program on TV that mentioned that the US 34th President Dwight Eisenhower prior to becoming the leader of our country was at Columbia University as president. Dwight Eisenhower depicted on left in regalia.
How did he go from NATO Supreme Allied Commander to university President. I found out.
Nicholas Murray Butler, Eisenhower’s immediate predecessor, had been Columbia’s President for 43 years (1902-1945). Butler left a great legacy but was an extraordinarily powerful individual who built the university into a leading research center.
He also exerted such influence among the Trustees (technically, his bosses) that they rarely if ever contradicted him. It was only the fact that he had gone blind and was effectively bedridden that no less a figure than Thomas Watson (Chairman of IBM) had to be summoned to tell Butler that the time had come for his resignation.
Columbia’s Trustees hired Eisenhower knowing full well that he would most likely be an absentee President, because they essentially needed to learn how to do their jobs again. Securing a marquee name such as Eisenhower would give them positive publicity while also granting them and the faculty enough maneuvering space to address the institution’s long-ossified internal issues.
For Eisenhower, the circumstances were just as ideal. Not being an academic, he wouldn’t be expected to actually do any academic administration, and it would burnish his reputation and give him some “time off” to ponder his next post (in this case, the White House). As it turns out, that’s exactly what he did. Ike spent seven of his nine semesters at Columbia on leave as he was simultaneously serving as Supreme Allied Commander of NATO. When he was on campus, he preferred to read Zane Grey novels, while two military attaches guarding his office in Low Library turned away every prospective visitor.