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The Different Leaders at a College

If you’re like me, you probably didn’t know much about the many different leaders on your college campus and their responsibilities. The only leader I was aware of at college was a college professor. In this post, I will be discussing some possible unfamiliar terms to new college students that reference the different leaders at a college.


A college president’s responsibilities are similar to the responsibilities of the President of the United States of America. Instead of governing the United States, a college president governs their college. A college president is working towards building the best college experience for their students. College presidents are also making sure their college is effectively contributing knowledge to the educational community and beyond. Each college has a set of goals and the college president works towards meeting those goals through different initiatives, policies, and programs. College presidents are aware of the problems and setbacks of their specific college and work towards formulating solutions. College presidents also determine the budget for each academic school year based on how much spending is needed to effectively operate the college. They also make sure the budget is being adhered to and the money goes towards what it is needed for.


A chancellor may not be at every college but if you attend a college with multiple campuses the chancellor acts as the leader of their specific campus other than the main campus.

Vice Presidents

While college presidents may deal with the overall operations of a college, vice presidents deal with specific components such as development and communications. Vice presidents have the ability to focus on a specific component so as to put all their efforts towards being well versed in the needs of each specific component. Focusing on one component allows vice presidents to better know the solutions of each component rather than having to know the solutions to the problems of the whole college. Vice presidents report to the college president.


The CFO, or Chief Financial Officer, is responsible for focusing on the finances of a university. The CFO has the authority to budget approvals across all functions. The CFO looks at all the expenses and sources income of a university. The CFO may also be called a Controller, Treasurer, or Vice President of Finance


The Chief Information Officer (CIO) is responsible for all information technology within a college or university. For example, the CIO is responsible for Wi-Fi, cyber-security, etc. for all students, faculty and staff. The CIO’s primary focus is on IT initiatives and therefore they focus their efforts on making the best decision for the university’s IT. The CIO usually works with the president, provost, or CFO.


The provost is responsible for fostering the academics of a college. They might set the grading policy, determine the curriculum, determine the best professor for each course and so on.


The dean is the leader of a school within a college. Most colleges have a specific school for different academic disciplines such as engineering or science. The dean works with the provost to ensure the academics of the college is productive.

Office of Student Affairs/Services or Division of Student Affairs/Services

The staff consists of managers, assistants, coordinators, directors and officers which are all words that can be interchanged. These terms refer to the various leaders within the office of student affairs who are working towards assisting students with admissions, financial aid, scholarships, registration, advising, retention concerns, graduation requirements, career resources, student organizations, student leadership, and health and wellbeing resources. The office of student affairs mainly supports students with any need they may have. The office of student affairs often directs you to a smaller office such as the office or financial aid that can help you with more specific needs.

All the leaders at a college are there for the benefit of the students and work with each other to make sure a college is fulfilling the needs of every student. Make sure to reach out to any leader if you have a concern and they can provide the best possible support. The more you know about the responsibilities of the leaders at your college, the better you can determine who to reach out to.


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