Universities: The Unknown Rulers

University presidents, outspoken professors, even rebellious students—all have a knack for getting noticed. Yet, except in rare moments of acute controversy, the men and women who are technically at the top of the nation's huge state-university systems are the least known figures in academe's power structure. And the least rewarded. The state-university regents read reams of reports, worry endlessly over their university's business, scurry to meetings and ceremonies. In return they get only free campus parking, a few choice football tickets, and perhaps their names, in fine print, on a building plaque.

As states expand their higher-education systems, the role...

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