The future of small private colleges or universities in financial difficulty depends on the marketing skills of their presidents, concludes a study done at Brigham Young University.

Alan Hamlin, chairman of the Southern Utah State College business management department, and Curtiss Hungerford, a BYU professor of education leadership, interviewed 126 private college presidents from institutions that survived financial hardships to find out the strategies they used to overcome fiscal troubles. Hamlin recently earned his doctorate at BYU.The research revealed that the role of a private college president is changing from an administrator concerned with academic issues to a businessman responsible for fund-raising efforts and the public image of the institution.

"The ultimate success or failure of the college in overcoming a financial crisis depends upon the vision, enthusiasm and business skills of its leader," says Hamlin.

In this environment of change, presidents who were able to delegate operational duties to subordinates while concentrating on public relations and fund-raising saved their institutions from financial ruin, Hamlin says.

Asked to rank essential methods for surmounting financial difficulties, presidents listed expanded recruiting efforts, fund-raising efforts by the president, faculty-staff cutbacks or layoffs, and administration cutbacks or layoffs as their top four choices.