The commitment to developing future leaders at Kansas State University was a vision of then Associate Vice President for Institutional Advancement and Dean of Students Pat Bosco who believed that leadership can be learned. Currently, Vice President for Student Life and Dean of Students Bosco pondered what prepares student leaders at Kansas State University to assume leadership roles at the collegiate level. In 1988, Vice President Bosco conducted a study to identify the high school background of the leaders of the Kansas State University student body. In addition to having a higher than average ACT score, Vice President Bosco discovered that collegiate leaders began practicing leadership in high school. Vice President Bosco working with Dr. Susan M. Scott, then Associate Dean of Students initiated a leadership scholarship program that identified high school leaders who demonstrated an interest in leadership. One hundred and thirty-six students received leadership scholarships that first year.
In the spring of 1996, the Institutional Advancement Staff (Drs. Susan M. Scott and Pat Bosco) approached the Department of Educational Leadership faculty (Drs. Robert Shoop and David Thompson) in regard to a joint sponsorship of an interdisciplinary minor in Leadership Studies. In addition to academic classes, nonacademic programming was also proposed. Leadership classes had been taught at Kansas State University in various formats since the mid - 1980's. The minor was planned as a consolidation and extension of these previous efforts with the intention of offering Kansas State University students the opportunity to learn about and apply leadership theories and skills across academic disciplines. The Department of Educational Administration, in the College of Education, under the leadership of Dr. David Thompson made a commitment to prepare leaders rather than simply train school administrators. This shift in commitment was symbolized when the department changed its name to the Department of Educational Administration and Leadership then to the Department of Educational Leadership. Dr. Robert Shoop, a faculty member in this department began to develop courses in leadership.
The initial proposal for the interdisciplinary minor was written in the summer of 1996 by Drs. Scott and Shoop. The proposal was given to Provost James Coffman and Vice President Robert Krause and an interdisciplinary task force was established. The task force was chaired by Scott and Shoop. On the 3rd of March 1997, the Kansas Board of Regents approved an 18 - hour interdisciplinary minor in Leadership Studies.
The staff in the spring of 1997 consisted of 1.5 faculty, with an operating budget of less than $5,000. Dr. Susan M. Scott served as Director, beginning in 1996, and Dr. Robert Shoop Professor and Senior Scholar in the same year. The first class (Introduction to Leadership Concepts) was taught to the general student body in the spring of 1997 and the first Practicum in Leadership Studies was also taught.
In the spring of 1998, Introduction to Leadership Concepts was approved for general education credit and the first Leadership for the 21st Century Senior Seminar class was taught (later named Senior Seminar in Leadership Studies). Service learning was integrated into Leadership Studies through a grant from K-State’s Community Service Program. In order to ensure that the program was responsive to the needs of the students, a Leadership Studies Student Advisory board was elected. This board was later named the Leadership Studies and Programs Student Ambassadors. In the spring of 1998, thirteen students constituted the first Leadership Studies graduating class.
On the 11th of January 2010, the faculty/staff of the School of Leadership Studies move into the new Leadership Studies Building! It is a joyous day!
We appreciate the vision and leadership it took to create such a program at Kansas State University. A more detailed history is available here.