Relationship builder, trust builder, strategic communications, public relations, general counsel


The chief of staff role first emerged as a military and government position to strategize battles and advise generals centuries ago (O’Brien, 2020). It has been more common in the United States to find chiefs of staff (or COS) in political environments: The White House chief of staff often comes to mind when the title is mentioned. In recent years the role has been adopted by corporate entities. Companies often create and hire individuals into the title to organize senior level, institution work (Ciampa, 2020) and the corporatization and resulting organizational changes in higher education (Bleikliea & Kogan, 2007) have led to the adoption of the COS role by college presidents as well. Following discussions with, and the review of credentials of, nine incumbent chiefs of staff and a review of position descriptions of a handful of others, some trends emerged and are reported here.