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How to Depose a College President
(Being a Contribution to the Expanding Internet Library of How-to Literature)
by Peter McMillan

These days everybody seems to want to know how to do something, and they want to be told in 500 words or less.

I've been commissioned, sort of, by a virtual company with a P.O. Box in Oklahoma City to write a how-to piece in the how-to genre for a how-to website. These websites, popping up like mushrooms, are encyclopedias of unqualified information, and I'm thinking I may have found a niche for myself.

I am committed, sort of, to this new Internet-age writing form that blends technical knowing-how with fantastic knowing-what and that enables everyman to become an expert, a writer, a creator and not just a consumer. At $10 a guide, I have to be committed, sort of, because I've got a lot of writing to do.

The guide that you will be reading is my first attempt in the how-to genre.


In this guide, I'm going to tell you how to overthrow a college president.

First, make sure that conditions are favorable. Watch for signs like these:

  • The faculty senate passes resolution after resolution demanding the president's resignation.
  • Loyalty within the administration is divided. Even the registrar has chosen sides – both of them.
  • Time magazine's front-page cover is not about the college's football program.

Second, make contact with the leaders of the opposition. Start with the guys in Math and History. Business, Education and Engineering – they're followers. Philosophy and Literature – they’re too thoughtful. Athletics – they’re the guardians. Best to start with the agitators. Everyone else will fall into line as the campaign gathers momentum.

Third, strategize. Identify the enemy's weakness. For example, if the president's last possible support is an indifferent student population, the high-level plan would look something like this:

1. Educate students about the issues in a manner that is unbiased—more or less.
2. Mobilize students against the president. Deploy a massive boots-on-the-ground, door-to-door petition drive. The signatures have to be real, but the petition can be presented to suit the circumstances.
3. Stage a media event for the coup de grâce. Coordinate local media for a surprise photo op in the president’s office. The media presence must be overwhelming. If the blue-haired secretary runs for the door, you're on your way.
4. Speak to the cameras as you hand the president the petition calling for his immediate resignation. The president will offer an unconvincing smile for the cameras. Make sure yours is bigger and enthusiastic. Show teeth.
5. Wait. In two or three weeks, the board of trustees will announce a national search for a new president.

Voilà! That’s how you overthrow a college president.

The usual disclaimers apply.

Next week’s topic will be “How to Overthrow a Central American President.”