“When You’re Down and Troubled…..”

Can a college president have friends on campus?  That’s the question posed by Melody Rose and Patrick Sharry in a recent Chronicle of Higher Education essay (February 2nd online).  The authors present five useful suggestions for lessening one’s presidential isolation, but omit five others that — according to relationship experts — are at least as valuable.  Here are the Missing Five:

Buy a robot dog.  Robot dogs are the perfect companions.  They are adorable, undemanding, and will listen to you for hours on end without judging you.  You can tell them anything.  Do NOT make the mistake of purchasing a robot cat.  Even when operating in Silent Mode, robot cats exude disdain for every decision you make.  A dog is the way to go.  

Hire an organized-crime confidant.  The Mob has provided confidants to chief executives around the country since the early 1980s, when the organization decided to diversify its portfolio of services beyond drugs, prostitution, gambling, and trash hauling.  Mob confidants are expensive, but they are absolutely worth it.  Their reputation for keeping secrets is unparalleled, and if a faculty member, dean, or vice president becomes too troublesome, your special friend will be more than happy to come up with a discreet, permanent solution to the problem.  

Develop a drinking problem and join AA.  The support groups offered by Alcoholics Anonymous are tremendous sources of camaraderie for individuals experiencing stress.  Of course, “what happens in group stays in group,” so there’s no need to worry about violations of confidentiality.  But if you’re still skittish about that possibility, simply use a fake name when introducing yourself at meetings.  

Bond with an imaginary friend.  Many children have imaginary friends that they talk with and turn to in difficult times.  There’s no reason that adults can’t do the same.  A popular choice among college presidents is Mr. Rogers.  He’s helped more than one leader in higher education survive a no-confidence vote. 

Reach out to your Bangladesh-based Xfinity service representativeAvailable by phone 24 hours a day, these folks will provide you with detailed, step-by-step advice for handling the challenges you encounter.  The fact that these unfailingly friendly staff members aren’t always easy to understand is not a problem, since it’s no secret that most of the major difficulties you face as president (obstructionist unions, insufficient parking, lecherous professors) are immune to sustained resolution in any event.

MORAL OF THE STORY: Yes, being a college president is tough.  But there’s no need to travel this rocky road alone.  It’s time to add “You’ve Got a Friend” to your mixtape.