As a search begins for the 17th president of the U, four past presidents offer some thoughts on Eric Kaler’s successor.

Kenneth Keller, 1985-1988

“My word of advice to them is ‘be lucky.’ You’re going to rise and fall on the actions of other people. ... What makes this job hard is the number of constituencies that you need to serve.”

Nils Hasselmo, 1988-1997

“The president ought to provide continuity. It happens that presidents come in and try something entirely new, and good initiatives that were underway kind of fall into oblivion.”

Mark Yudof, 1997-2002

“You have to be prepared for surprises. I remember one day [a protester] called me from a cellphone, hanging from a rope at Moos tower. That wasn’t how I was expecting to start my day.”

Robert Bruininks, 2002-2011

“Have really strong aspirational goals. I do think looking at the horizon, and imagining what the university should look like 10-20 years into the future … is really important.”