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“According to the 2009 National Leadership Index, 7 out of 10 of Americans believe that the country faces a leadership crisis,” states David Wold, director of the recently founded Leadership Institute at Principia College. Wold, who has held different leadership positions throughout his life and often runs leadership workshops, said, “one of the primary concerns people have is the lack of integrity that seems so prevalent among those in leadership positions.” This concern helps explain why the Leadership Institute was created. It aims to help students develop the skills and qualities that will make them effective leaders, no matter where they end up after graduation.
Wold believes there is a need for good leaders in the world, so the main purpose of the Institute is to create such leaders. Wold said, “the purpose of the Leadership Institute is to meet that world need by helping students develop and refine their leadership skills to become more effective leaders on campus, in their career and in their community.” Wold also points out that one of the purposes of Principia is to educate men and women of integrity, who will then be able to make a difference in the world. He quoted Education at The Principia, by Mary Kimball Morgan, saying, “The world needs purposeful men and women—men and women who are fitted to be leaders in every avenue of righteous activity.” The Institute attempts to cultivate unexplored leadership qualities.
Approximately a dozen students have been selected as Fellows of the Institute. All of them have had experience in leadership in the past, and most of them currently hold leadership positions on campus. At the Institute, the Fellows will examine different leadership theories and models and will also develop their practical leadership skills. Most importantly, they will apply what they are learning in their different leadership positions on campus. The group of Fellows will remain unchanged throughout this academic year, so that it can build on previous activities. During spring quarter, other students will be invited to participate in next year’s fellowship.
A few Fellows shared their expectations for the program. Freshman Fellow Dillon Siewart said that, “the most exciting thing about this Institute is that I get the chance to increase my leadership skills so I can make a more positive impact in the world.” Junior Kendall McMurray, another Fellow, said she wants to learn how to be a humble leader— “the type of leader that does not need loud noises to captivate an audience.” Sophomore Fellow Robert Barnacle, who sets high goals for himself, said: “I hope to become someone I could look up to. I want to be proud of who I am.” Barnacle said that he believes this program will lead him in the right direction.
Although it is not necessary to be a Fellow in order to make a difference in someone’s life, on the Principia campus, or in the world, it can certainly help an individual achieve this aim. Anybody can have great ideas and become a fantastic leader. The Leadership Institute is like a big toolbox full of resources that expand those innate qualities. Wold affirmed this, saying, “the essence of leadership is service to others, which means that good leaders make those around them better. Anyone who is striving to serve will make a meaningful difference.”