In 1985, Purdue established a for-credit class for students in Greek social organizations, says Jane Hamblin, associate dean of students. Purdue has the third-largest Greek system in the country, based on the number of active chapters.
Since then, the course has expanded to include all students. "I felt limiting the course to members of Greek social organizations excluded people who wanted and needed to develop leadership skills," Hamblin says. "I expanded the focus in 1989 and opened it to all students as an elective in the educational studies department." She says the class is different from many college leadership classes because it doesn't originate from the business curriculum. The course also encourages active student participation and improvement of individual skills.
Hamblin has continued to develop the credit course, Student Leadership Development, that is available to 24 students each semester. Course objectives include learning, identifying and evaluating leadership styles, applying different leadership skills to different situations, building teams within an organization, and improving speaking and writing skills.
One semester-long exercise for class members is to follow the actions and decisions of world and national leaders. This semester they watched North Korean leader Kim Il Jung, federal budget director Leon Panetta, First Lady Hillary Rodham Clinton and U.S. Sen. Diane Feinstein.
Students say the class helps them become more effective leaders. One student, Julie Eddleman of Indianapolis, took the course twice before she starting teaching the course herself. "I had been involved in leadership positions in high school and was active in a few organizations during my freshman year," Eddleman says. "Jane Hamblin encouraged me to take the class as a sophomore, and I felt I was ready to step up my skills."
Eddleman says the class helped her almost immediately. "I interned at Dow Brands in Indianapolis for two years, and I was able to relate the class theory to the real world of leadership," she says. "I see a lot of the students move into leadership roles after finishing the class. Many of them say they aspire to politics or public service. They decide to really get involved in the organizations they belong to." For example, Eddleman serves on Purdue's Board of Trustees.
Former class participants include two presidents of the Interfraternity Council, a president of the Panhellenic Association, two student body presidents, two student body vice presidents, four pro-tem presidents of the student senate, four presidents of the adult student association, a marching band drum major, a college yearbook editor, president of the Society of Minority Managers, president of the Minority Science Student Association and seven fraternity chapter presidents. Two winners of the G.A. Ross Award for the outstanding senior man and one winner of the Flora Roberts Award for the outstanding senior woman have finished the course since it was redesigned in 1989.
Student Leadership Development is not the only leadership class on campus. This fall the Residence Halls initiated a non-credit class, Bellwether Bearings, for students living in university housing. Amanda Ralston, assistant manager of Windsor Halls, says the class goals include identifying characteristics of a strong leader and assessing a person's own leadership skills.
Response to the first offering is encouraging, Ralston says. More students signed up to take the six-week class than the 24 spots would allow. "It has been exciting to see the number of students who want to be involved," she says. "I think the level of interest shows that students know they need leadership skills and want to do something about it." Most of the students attending the class this year are people already involved in hall clubs, the student government for the undergraduate housing units.
In addition to classes, the Office of the Dean of Students and Residence Halls help organize a variety of short-term leadership programs for students from Purdue and other campuses.
The Interfraternity Council and the Panhellenic Association at Purdue are hosts each fall of the Indiana Greek Leadership Conference, the largest regional Greek social organization gathering.
More than 250 students participate in the one-day Residence Halls Student Leadership Conference each spring semester. The conference introduces undergraduate students to the possibility of leadership in the hall clubs, says Marvis Boscher, assistant director of residence halls.
Nearly 200 sophomores participated in the two-day Emily Mauzy Vogel Leadership conference last month. The conference brings second-year students to a woodland conference site and teaches them leadership and team-building skills. Each year, the Office of the Dean of Students helps sponsor students who attend the National Conference for Collegiate Women in Leadership.
Leadership development programs cost money, Hamblin says. "Fortunately, we've been very lucky with donors for our programs. Donations make a lot our programs possible."
Robert Mauzy, the late Charles McGaughey and 1991 graduate Kevin Michael Fink all have supported programs and/or scholarships at Purdue. Mauzy's donation funds the sophomore leadership conference. McGaughey, founder of MCL Cafeterias, established an endowment that funds seven scholarships each year that are worth more than $2,000 each. Fink established a $250 leadership award before he graduated from Purdue to recognize student leadership, particularly in the area of athletics and race relations.
The Residence Halls Leadership Conference is supported with funding from AT&T.
Sources: Marvis Boscher, (765) 494-1000; Internet, firstname.lastname@example.org
Jane Hamblin, (765) 494-1243; Internet, email@example.com
Julie Eddleman, (765) 494-1232
Amanda Ralston, (765) 494-2612
Writer: J. Michael Willis, (765) 494-0371; Internet, firstname.lastname@example.org
Purdue News Service: (765) 494-2096; e-mail, email@example.com
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