September 20, 2017

Presidential Op-eds Project

Early in 2014 I set out to analyze all presidential commentary in print and electronic media that appeared in the first half of the year. I gathered all the opinion pieces I could identify that had been written by sitting college and university presidents across all sectors of nonprofit higher education and were posted/published during that period. All news media outlets – newspapers and magazines, print and electronic – were included. Also included were pieces that appeared in association periodicals or websites.  Not included, though, were letters to the editor, nor pieces in media controlled by the institution (e.g., alumni magazine columns and blog posts on the institution’s website). Columns or op-eds by the president in the institution’s student newspaper also were excluded.

I found so much of interest and value in the first six months of 2014 that I continued to gather and assess op-eds from the second half of the year as well.  As of January 2015, I had gathered nearly 600 opinion pieces by more than 200 college and university CEOs and system heads.

Putting the op-eds into a database, I analyzed such aspects as style, structure, novel concepts, and where they appeared. Additionally, I sorted and quantified the op-eds by writer, and posted links to opinion pieces by the most productive writers.

In early 2015 I looked at the type of issue each of the op-eds addressed, using over 20 content categories to assess what presidents are talking about in their op-eds and what topics are attracting the most attention with readers.

I created this mini-website as a repository for information and resources I had discovered in the course of the analysis.  I hope you find it useful.

Contact me at rolandkingdc@gmail.com with questions or comments.

Roland King