For college and university presidents, the process of apologizing after high-profile missteps can seem to take as long as a tortoise walking a mile.
As a result, the actions Wednesday of University of California, Irvine, Chancellor Howard Gillman stand out as noteworthy. Days after news broke that the university revoked admission offers from 499 students, Chancellor Howard Gillman issued a public statement offering a personal apology. The university would admit all accepted students except for those who dropped below its academic standards, he said.
The relative speed and decisiveness with which Gillman acted raise the question of why more university presidents don’t step in so swiftly. Higher education’s recent history is littered with instances of leaders who seemingly hesitated to offer forceful apologies. Instead of pleasing the public by uttering two little words and a promise to fix
things, such presidents have been seen as incompetent, stonewalling or hemming and hawing.