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Leadership concentration approved by trustees

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With representatives from every college and the backing of faculty, alumni, university boards and committees, Drake University will unveil a new academic program one-and-a-half years in the making. The Drake board of trustees approved the Drake University Academic Concentration in Leadership Education and Development on Oct. 2.

Drake will offer the undergraduate, interdisciplinary concentration in Leadership Education and Development beginning in the spring 2011 academic term. The 20 credit-hour concentration is open to all students from any academic major.

The concentration was an idea derived from the success of the Donald V. Adams Leadership Institute.

“The concentration, like a minor, is an extension of the Adams Leadership Academy,” said Thomas Westbrook, chairman of the Academic Concentration in Leadership Education and Development and professor of education at Drake. “We have an exemplary and very unique leadership program; we wanted to compliment the non-credit with the 20 credit-hour concentration and create something distinctly Drake.”

The program design will link course material with experiences. Each student will work with Westbrook and will be assigned a leadership mentor who will assist the students to integrate course material with their experiences as student leaders on and off campus.

“The whole idea is backed by actual experiences,” Westbrook said. “Each person works with a mentor whether it is a graduate student or business person in the community.”

According to the concentration in Leadership Education and Development’s literature, leadership at Drake is defined as the process of challenging ourselves and others to develop a shared vision and of influencing individuals or groups toward the ethical achievement of common goals.

While some leadership definitions and concepts are derived from business, the vision of the concentration is for undergraduate students to make not only significant contributions to the university, but also to their communities both on and off campus.

“Leadership books are often written from a business perspective, but that’s just not the case with the practice of leadership,” said Jan Wise, director of student leadership and the Donald V. Adams Leadership Institute at Drake. “You’re a leader in your neighborhood or when you stand up to speak at the Parent Teacher Association. Leadership is not limited to business or any certain degree.”

Students received the official announcement of the concentration in Leadership Education and Development from Provost Michael Renner on Oct. 13. As students became aware of the new opportunity, some are eager to be a part of it. Matt Vogel, a sophomore marketing and graphic design major, thinks that the new concentration is a unique opportunity.

“I think a big emphasis of Drake is the link between the classroom and the real world,” Vogel said. “Directly linking business professionals with Drake students creates a more intimate relationship that allows for learning between mentors and students that goes both ways.”

Another unique aspect of the concentration in Leadership Education and Development is its compatibility with the Donald V. Adams Leadership Academy. The one-credit hour introductory course for the concentration (LEAD 001) can be waived with successful completion of the Donald V. Adams Leadership Academy and by attending a short orientation to the concentration.

The concentration in Leadership Education and Development provides five leadership tenants which include words like relationships, responsibility, development, practice, high standards, ethics and integrity. Westbrook added that the concentration gives students a much deeper dive into leadership.

“You think of some of Martin Luther King Jr.’s lessons,” Westbrook said. “He challenged us to think differently and that’s what leadership is all about. The Drake experience can be a leadership laboratory.”

In her role as director of student leadership, Wise offers practical leadership advice on a daily basis, and offers students one final thought.

“Practice leadership in college,” she said. “People make mistakes, and no one does it perfectly. Practice it here and you’re that much further ahead out there.”

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