eadership program complements range of interests, majors

by Mickie Barg

First-year University student Daniel Fischer’s experience as vice president in his high school’s student council instilled in him a desire to be a leader.
The University’s new leadership minor is a perfect fit for him.
The program was established in December 1999 as a vision of McKinley Boston and is a collaboration between three separate University entities: the College of Education and Human Development, the Humphrey Institute of Public Affairs and the Office for Student Development.
The minor is aimed at complementing a diverse range of majors, although student athletes fill up nearly half the introductory classes, said Debra Hare, associate director of the Center for School Change at the Humphrey Institute.
“The athletes are pushed into leadership roles and have no more skills than the average person,” Hare said.
Therefore, she added, the courses are extremely helpful and the students like having them early in career development.
Fischer agrees, saying the more he is involved in the leadership courses, the more he gets out of them.
While not an athlete, Fischer said the leadership courses give him new insight into how he can take charge and recruit others to be aware and involved in community action.
The goal of the minor program is to give students the skills to be more involved in education through campus and community involvement. Students who participate in activities are more likely to stay in school and graduate, according to the executive summary of the leadership minor.
The coursework covers diverse issues in areas of global, rural and small-group leadership which bring students to a new level of confidence, said Verna Simmons, director of first-year experience in Student Development and Athletics.
“The program is not designed to develop manipulative power, but to ensure social change for the common good of the people through personal challenge and reflection,” Simmons said.
The first students who received the minor last May followed the leadership program for three years clinging to the hope that the minor would be approved.
“Without the approval, those students would have had no formal acknowledgement on their transcripts,” said Angela Boatman, an assistant in the first-year experience leadership program.
Leadership courses had previously been offered only at the graduate level.
“As a teacher of the introductory undergraduate leadership course, I felt disappointed that I didn’t have the opportunity to take a class like this early on in my academic career,” Hare said.

Mickie Barg welcomes comments at [email protected].