James Lee Fisher, former Towson University president, has no spring break. This week he was in the Charlotte, N.C., airport on yet another consulting job. He was heading to a college whose administration is paying for his advice and recommendations.
Fisher is now 76 and says he feels like 56. He still plays basketball with his grandson. From 1969 to 1978, he was the president of Towson University and saw its enrollment nearly double.
"Towson was the best decade of my life. We did a lot of things and I didn't know any better," he said. "The trick is to surround yourself with people better than you are."
A Sun article once referred to him as a "master educational politician." He calls himself "the nation's leading authority on the college president." Since leaving Baltimore, he has consulted with more than 300 institutions of higher learning.
Fisher finds the time to write books. His newest volume, Born, and Not Made: The Entrepreneurial Personality, is due for release in June.
Fisher has a condominium at HarborView on Key Highway, but spends most of his non-traveling time on his 70-foot long boat, which has four staterooms and is docked at North Palm Beach, Fla.
"I named it after my mother, the Vera Brant," he said. "She couldn't swim." He also holds client meetings with doctoral students, college presidents and board chairs.
He's planning another book, tentatively titled Applause Please, about the relationship between a chief executive officer and the board of directors.
"Academic credentials do not necessarily portend successful leadership," he said.
Fisher typically spends about a week at the schools he advises. "I don't stay too long and they think I'm smart," he said.