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Leadership studies experiences huge growth

In five years, leadership studies has become K-State's largest academic program

By Mark Berry

 

 

Where leaders are made

Leadership studies building
Photo by April M. Blackmon.

 

It's only been on campus for five years, but with 1,104 students, the minor in leadership studies at Kansas State University is already the largest academic program on campus.

"Truthfully, we're amazed at how much it has grown. We thought initially that 100 students would be a really good goal," said Susan Scott, director of leadership studies and programs.

When people think about leaders, they tend to imagine outgoing dynamos who start early by joining student council or other organizations in high school, Scott said. But the leadership program also helps develop late bloomers.

"We used to assume leadership was something you were born with or you were not born with, but now we realize it can be taught," Scott said.

Scott said Americans have begun to question the leadership in government, education and business, which has drawn attention to the development of leaders. K-State's leadership students learn about such topics as diversity, service and ethics.

"What we hope to teach is an attitude towards having the ability and the responsibility for making the world a better place," Scott said.

She said students also learn that they must sometimes be effective followers, by supporting the leaders and being part of the team. Businesses want employees who can deal with multitasking, diversity, conflict resolution and goal setting, all of which are taught in the leadership program, said Robert Shoop, education professor and leadership studies senior scholar.

"Historically, people thought an organization has one leader. Now, many decisions are made at lower levels, closest to where the action is taking place. Everyone in the team must bring his or her expertise," Shoop said.

The program has produced some highly successful students. Leslie Small, a junior in agricultural economics with a minor in leadership studies from Lebanon, Ind., was named as K-State's 25th Truman Scholar in 2002.

Three of the four 2002 Truman candidates from K-State are in the leadership program. The K-State student body president-elect and vice president-elect for the 2002-03 academic year also are working toward leadership minors.

Summer 2002