08/01/2013 02:03 pm ET Updated Oct 01, 2013

Harvard's 'Boot Camp' for New College Presidents

Each summer, they arrive in Harvard Square. They are no more than 45 in number and all share a common bond -- each one is a newly appointed, first-year college president.

In five days, the goal of this annual institute is to "familiarize new presidents with the opportunities and hazards they will likely face and prepare them to respond to the multiple responsibilities and constituencies of their new role." Some have likened it to "new president boot camp" -- others joke it's also "psychotherapy disguised as professional development."

Regardless, questions answered at the end of this unique cohort's week are myriad: What should a president do to become an effective fundraiser? How does one live in the spotlight of the presidency? How does the president sustain his or her own academic interests? Taught by Harvard faculty, former college presidents, and current college presidents from across the country, the peer group learning and collective wisdom is dynamically shared amongst these senior leaders both within and outside sessions.

This past week, the Harvard EdCast caught up with an attendee of this institute and asked Dr. Richard Hopper, former World Bank education specialist, who recently assumed his role as president of Kennebec Valley Community College in Maine -- quite frankly, what was it like?

Download this episode on Harvard iTunesU

The Harvard EdCast is a weekly series of podcasts that features a 15-20 minute conversation with thought leaders in the field of education from across the country and around the world. A production of the Harvard Graduate School of Education, the Harvard EdCast is a space for educational discourse and openness, focusing on the myriad issues and current events related to the field.