If the President of the United States can tweet for himself, why can’t the president of a university?
The most effective Twitter streams in higher education are those that engage the audience, serve a purpose and provide a voice in the conversation. It’s an incredible bonus when that voice carries with it the weight on an institution.
Enter the tweeting president.
There’s a certain level of trepidation for most higher education administrators when it comes to Twitter. It’s not easy balancing institutional control with transparency. But when that balance can be struck, the result is interesting, insightful and incredibly powerful. A president who embraces Twitter can personalize an institution in few other services can.
Already, there are dozens of university presidents blazing the way. Here are a few of my favorite feeds, in no particular order:
David Leebron, Rice University
606 tweets | 7 following | 873 followers | 60 listed
President Leebron offers great insight into the day-to-day activities of a university president — at a ballgame with the mayor, attending a global summit of university presidents, walking the dog across campus, etc. The feed is personal and not afraid to share an opinion.
E. Gordon Gee, The Ohio State University
990 tweets | 34 following | 18,454 followers | 532 listed
There’s not a lot of interaction between President Gee and his Twitter followers through this feed, but the stream does provide a clear and consistent image of an academic institution and its place in the world. I know it’s not all about the number of followers, but 18,000 is no number to ignore.
Renu Khator, University of Houston
890 tweets | 14 following | 2,856 followers | 110 listed
The feed from President Khator provides great personality while promoting all the school has to offer. She’s not afraid to tweet pictures — from a meeting with Jim Lehrer to an alumni gathering in McAllen to the latest styles in University of Houston hats. It’s fun feed to watch.
Beth Stroble, Webster University
1,088 tweets | 550 following | 645 followers | 49 listed
I’d be remiss not to put President Stroble on this list, not because she’s the president of the university where I work but because of the way she embraces Twitter. She snaps photos from around the world, share links and knows well the proper use of a hashtag.
Jeff Abernathy, Alma College
1,098 tweets | 409 following | 830 followers | 104 listed
President Abernathy maintains a great feed balancing industry news with personal opinions. He might share news of the school’s efforts to address the financial concerns of incoming students in one tweet followed by a personal lament of traffic after an alumni event in D.C.
Linda Glasscock, North Lake College
1,503 tweets | 148 following | 323 followers | 27 listed
A great deal of President Glasscock’s Twitter feed is dominated by the things she retweets — articles on higher education, tips for becoming a better writer, interesting infographics. But you have to love a Tweeter who takes the time to thank others for retweeting her original content.
Rick Mann, Crown College
2,561 tweets | 416 following | 540 followers | 25 listed
Crown College is a small Christian school located just outside of Minneapolis, Minn., and the tweets coming from President Mann clearly reflect its brand. The tone is personal and proud, two things that paint Crown College in a very positive light.
Christopher G. Maples, Oregon Institute of Technology
981 tweets | 746 following | 754 followers | 41 listed
The Twitter feed from President Maples is filled with mentions meaning here’s a man who’s not afraid to use Twitter for one of its most powerful features — connecting people on a personal level. President Maples does a great job of answering questions, offering congratulatory messages and engaging his audience.
Biddy Martin, University of Wisconsin-Madison
1,261 tweets | 113 following | 5,705 followers | 264 listed
Perhaps the highest compliment I could pay Chancellor Martin is that although I do not know her, I feel like I do. She is engaging, enthusiastic and funny. Higher education administrators should take note.
Do you know administrator in higher education worth following? Please add them to the comments below.