STORY BY ANNA ZAVELL
Riots across the country through the 60s and 70s caused a stir at college campuses across the country.
Donald V. Adams worked at Drake for 37 years, holding positions such as Vice President of Student Life, Vice President of Enrollment Management and Executive Assistant to the President. He came to Drake to change campus life.
The early 1960s through the late 1970s was a troubling time for college students across the country. As violence broke out at Kent State University and Jackson State College causing a ripple effect on other colleges. Students became uneasy about the events and held their protests, which caused riots. Many of these student protests were not only a response to incidents of college campus violence but also pushes for civil rights and demonstrations of opposition to the Vietnam War.
Adams first came to Drake’s campus as Vice President of Student Life where he was responsible for helping control students’ radical actions.
“I formed a close relationship with Vergos during his years at Drake,” Adams said. “Many years after his time at the university, he told me about his plans of he and other members of his class donating their money collectively to start up the Adams program.”
Adams is well-respected among his co-workers.
“He made sure students’ voices were being heard,” former Director of Leadership Programs Jan Wise said. “He listened to what they had to say, agreed and disagreed with their statements and became a great influence in student’s lives.”
Wise said that former Drake students attribute their success after graduation to their relationships with Adams.
Former student Ken Vegors acted on his positive reflections during and after his time at Drake and approached faculty in 2001 with the idea of starting a leadership program. Vergos wanted to replicate his experiences at Drake for current students with an emphasis on leadership, which is how the Adams Academy was born.
“He wasn’t calling to ask my permission, he was calling to tell me he was starting a leadership program at Drake in my honor,” Adams said.
Wise, who was in charge of residence life at the time, was appointed to serve as the director of the new leadership program by the Dean of Students.
“The goal was to create a program that covered a topic students wouldn’t normally cover in their core classes, that topic being leadership,” Wise said. “Leadership is an important quality in every part of life.”
The goal of Adams Academy is to strengthen student’s communication skills and stresses the importance of inclusivity, community service and involvement.
“These skills are important because they are facets of life that students are forced to use every day,” Interim Director of Student Leadership Meghan Blancas said. “It is important that students learn how to use these qualities correctly so that they are effective in their lives.”
Through the evolution of the Adams Academy, new leadership programs have popped up around campus. The Emerging Leaders Model is aimed at first-year students. Each semester, the campus hosts a leadership conference. Additionally, a concentration in Leadership Education and Development is also available.
“Adams is available to sophomore and senior students and over the years we have had around 1,400 students graduate from this program with another 125 students graduating this year,” Blancas said. “Students in the program meet once a week for an hour where they learn leadership skills through guest speakers, workshops and activities.”
“The program at Drake reflects years of success,” Adams said. “Drake has always attracted students who valued leadership to better the world, students who are always at the decision making table.
The world needs these types of leaders who value leadership as a critical and core value of life.”