University presidents' turnover and survival: the case of Chile

Over the last four decades, the number of universities in Chile has increased dramatically (from eight to more than 50), along with the total enrollment of students (from 100,000 to 670,000 approximately). University presidents have played an increasingly important and complex role in this process. Meanwhile, understanding what happens at the very top of universities and who governs them is long overdue. Thus far, no study has attempted to understand what drives university presidents' survival in Chile. Drawing on scholarship on university presidents' turnover and on presidential survival from political science, we approach universities as political entities in which actors compete for power and office. Using an original dataset, we quantitatively analyze 236 presidents from 60 different Chilean universities between 1990 and 2019 to determine why some presidents stay in office while other involuntarily steps down. Our results show that survival is chiefly explained by the university's level of institutionalization (accreditation and year of foundation), whether it is public (state-owned) or private, and the frequency of street protests against presidents.

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