The View from the Helm

Leading the American University during an Era of Change
James J. Duderstadt

A lively and informative take on the contemporary state of the university presidency and a behind-the-scenes look at the workings of one of the nation's premiere institutions of higher education


The View from the Helm is James Duderstadt's lively and informative take on the contemporary state of the university presidency and a behind-the-scenes look at the workings of one of the nation's premiere institutions of higher education.

Widely regarded as one of the most active and publicly engaged university presidents in modern academia, Duderstadt—who led the University of Michigan from 1988 to 1996—presided over a period of enormous change, not only for his institution, but for universities across the country. His presidency was a time of growth and conflict: of sweeping new affirmative-action and equal-opportunity programs, significant financial expansion, and reenergized student activism on issues from apartheid to codes of student conduct.

Under James Duderstadt's stewardship, Michigan reaffirmed its reputation as a trailblazer among universities. Part memoir, part history, part commentary, The View from the Helm extracts general lessons from his experiences at the forefront of change in higher education, offering current and future administrators a primer on academic leadership and venturing bold ideas on how higher education should be steered into the twenty-first century.

James J. Duderstadt is President Emeritus and University Professor of Science and Engineering at the University of Michigan.

Praise / Awards

  • "Candid, thoughtful, provocative and engaging, this timely book gives a valuable insider's view of the life and role of the university president."
    —Frank Rhodes, President Emeritus, Cornell University

  • "Jim Duderstadt has, once again, written a thoughtful and important book about contemporary American universities.   In this, his third "must read" book, The View from the Helm, Duderstadt has offered a unique combination of memoir and primer about the presidency of a major research university.  Reflecting on his own experience as an effective agent of institutional change and university leader, Duderstadt has written a book that should be read by every trustee and prospective university president.  His personal reflections on the beginnings and the endings of presidencies, from the awkwardness of being an internal candidate in the search to the circumstances leading presidents to step down, contain serious lessons for all involved.  Duderstadt deals with the large strategic issues of presidential vision and institutional transformation as well as the seemingly smaller, everyday issues that often complicate a president's life.  By describing battles he lost as well as those he won, he has defined principles by which university presidents need to stand regardless of the consequences.  I know of no other book that turns such candid self assessment into thoughtful advice about university leadership today."
    —Robert Berdahl, President, Association of American Universities

  • "Duderstadt skillfully displays the distinct facets of top-level leadership, not just in universities, but also in business, government, and elsewhere. His theme of resonance with institutional "saga" is powerful for any who ascend or aspire to a presidential role."
    —Larry R. Faulkner, President Emeritus, The University of Texas at Austin

  • "Reflections on the university presidency can be so specific to an institution that broader generalizations about leadership and higher education are difficult to discern. Jim Duderstadt has decisively resolved this problem. While the University of Michigan is a distinctive and distinguished university and Jim Duderstadt is clearly a creative and forceful personality, this book is a well crafted balance between specific experiences and broader insights into the challenges of university leadership. How change occurs within a complex university is hard to document and often is assumed to be absent. This book provides extraordinary insights into change in one institution under several presidents."
    —David Ward, President, American Council on Education

  • "Jim Duderstadt has provided a frank, tough-minded assessment of presidential leadership by focusing on what works, what doesn't, and why."
    —Robert Zemsky, Professor and Chair, The Learning Alliance for Higher Education

  • "a fine example of the genre. . . .required reading for those interested in the career and inner life of major public university presidents."

Product Details

  • 6 x 9.
  • 424pp.
  • 11 B & W photographs & 1 Figure.
Available for sale worldwide

  • Hardcover
  • 2007
  • Available
  • 978-0-472-11590-7

Add to Cart
  • $49.95 U.S.

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