Decades of Chaos and Revolution: Showdowns for College Presidents
Decades of Chaos and Revolution: Showdowns for College Presidents is the story and comparison of two eras in the history of higher education. The first era covers the period of the 1960s through the mid-1970s, and the second is the first decade of the twenty-first century. Both decades were marked by events that shook the foundations of colleges and universities, and society as a whole. Nelson weaves an engaging story, told through the eyes of the presidents of the institutions that were involved in the chaos of those eras.
For colleges and universities and their presidents, these two decades are the toughest, most tense and demanding of times in the last hundred years, and likely in the entire history of colleges and universities in America. The enduring images are equal parts chaos and change, revolution and recovery, dashed dreams and unflagging hopes. Nelson asks, of the two eras, which faced the greater challenges? Which era required more profound leadership? And which was the more difficult and demanding of their time to navigate successfully? It is clear that Steve Nelson sees the era of the 1960s and ‘70s as the most difficult. He believes that it was the presidents of that earlier era who confronted dilemmas and controversies unimagined before and not witnessed since.
Decades of Chaos and Revolution presents an insightful picture of the tension and tumult that presidents of the 1960s and ‘70s had no choice but to face. Nelson traces the roots of ideological battles in the university that have persisted over the last sixty years. He examines what worked and what didn’t in the tactics used by presidents in the face of the demands inspired by the protests and politics of the 1960s and shows how they have shaped succeeding generations of presidents. Then he unravels the parallel issues and unfinished business of the 1960s, which evolved in ensuing decades, and with which presidents in the twenty-first century must also grapple.
Rowman & Littlefield Publishers
Nelson, Stephen (2012). Decades of Chaos and Revolution: Showdowns for College Presidents. Lanham, MD: Rowman & Littlefield Publishers
Stephen J. Nelson is associate professor of Educational Leadership at Bridgewater State University.