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K-State Today

August 15, 2017

Kansas Leadership Center, Kansas State University launch research partnership

By Mary Hale Tolar

The Kansas Leadership Center and Kansas State University announce a jointly funded research partnership between center and K-State's Staley School of Leadership Studies to advance the field of leadership development and foster innovation in how leadership is exercised across Kansas and beyond.

Tim Steffensmeier, associate professor and former head of the communication studies department, will be the founding director and a faculty member in the Staley School.

The research initiative will focus on the impacts leadership programs have on organizations, businesses and communities that are working to make progress on adaptive challenges. The findings will be used to help people effectively exercise leadership by strengthening the set of principles, competencies and teaching methodologies that the Kansas Leadership Center and other organizations use with thousands of adult participants each year.

"The Kansas Leadership Center is working to transform the civic culture of Kansas, to be a culture that solves problems and seizes opportunities faster and more effectively, and this research initiative will fuel that work for decades to come," said Ed O'Malley, Kansas Leadership Center president and CEO.

The collaboration leverages assets and resources of the Kansas Leadership Center and K-State to create and disseminate objective research. The partnership includes research assistantships for graduate students in K-State's new interdisciplinary leadership communication doctoral program that will be directed by Steffensmeier. It also will offer dissertation opportunities and faculty research collaborations with Kansas and global partners.

"Our communities — local and global — require real, authentic engagement and leadership, built upon sound scholarship that is applied, informed, and improved by practice. This partnership with the Kansas Leadership Center drives that scholarship, increases the Staley School's capacity, and advances our K-State 2025 vision of becoming a center of global conversation, scholarship, and practice of effective civic leadership," said Mary Tolar, director of the Staley School. "We are delighted Dr. Steffensmeier is leading this research initiative and partnership, and we welcome him to our faculty."

The Kansas Leadership Center is a first-of-its-kind educational organization, based in Wichita but with a statewide focus and global reach, founded in 2007 to foster civic leadership for healthier Kansas communities. In its efforts to become the center of excellence for civic leadership development, it has provided training to more than 9,000 working-age adult participants in its first decade of existence. Alumni of its programs hail from more than 96 Kansas counties, 45 states — including the District of Columbia — and 33 countries. It receives core funding from the Kansas Health Foundation in Wichita.

The Mary Lynn and Warren Staley School of Leadership Studies is a values-centered learning community that offers interdisciplinary academic programs and an array of service-learning and civic engagement opportunities — all with the purpose of educating students for and about leadership. For 20 years, it has been advancing its mission of "developing knowledgeable, ethical, caring, inclusive leaders for a diverse and changing world."