12/17/2013 04:03 pm ET Updated Feb 09, 2014

Enjoy the Fishbowl

Being a college or university president is not for everyone. Unfortunately, many who become presidents seem not to understand the fact they will being living in a fishbowl.

I always joked that people knew how late I worked at home and what I had for breakfast. Actually, the former comment was not a joke because my office at home was on the city's main street, and I tended to keep the drapes open.

I quickly got used to the idea of no privacy; my wife did not. Our compromise was to get an off-campus retreat. While the retreat helped, it did not completely assuage my wife's concerns about privacy.

The lack of privacy, the fishbowl existence, is not for everyone. In the case of married presidents (and almost all presidents are married, or at least start off that way), you had better make sure your spouse wants the job as much as you do. Otherwise, the inevitable tensions will arise.

Remember, too, living in a fishbowl means your actions and words will always be scrutinized. A case in point for me involved one of my dogs and a staffer who had the same name as the dog.

I liked taking my dogs to work. On one occasion, my dog wandered downstairs, and I called for her -- repeatedly and loudly -- and said I had better not have to come downstairs to get her. Of course, the rumor around campus the next day was I had threatened to drag this valuable staffer upstairs unless she got there quickly.

So, try to enjoy the fishbowl, and bear in mind your words and actions will always be there for the college world to criticize. I certainly did not mind it, and you cannot either -- if you want to be a college president. And, if you bring your dog to work, hope no staffer in the building has the same name!