Over the past twelve months, we have created a mission and vision for the Leadership Development area, created new leadership coursework for undergraduates and graduate students, and most importantly used the year to build partnerships with tenured faculty to investigate and explore new ways of imbedding leadership development into Wake Forest’s curriculum.
Mission: In the Leadership Development area, we operate from the premise that all Wake Forest students have the capacity to lead. Building upon the Teacher-Scholar model and Liberal Arts disciplines, we work with faculty to develop curriculum and co-curricular experiences that help students develop their leadership potential. We focus on helping students develop their emotional intelligence capabilities, particularly targeting self-awareness, self-management, social awareness and relationship management skills.
Vision: Our vision is that Wake Forest University is recognized as a national leader in the development of students’ leadership capacity. When asked where they learned to lead, our graduates respond fondly that they developed a core set of their leadership skills while a student at Wake Forest University.
Serving three distinct constituencies within the Wake Forest Community, the Undergraduate College, the Business School, and the Medical School, we have created the following key programs and metrics to further our understanding of the best way to integrate leadership development in the Wake Forest curriculum:
Catalyst Scholars Program—Sponsored by the Department of Communication and the ESE minor, this trans-disciplinary course is led by Ananda Mitra, Evelyn Williams, Polly Black, Bill Conner and will include a cadre of faculty speakers from all five of the College divisions. The course, entitled Innovation Leadership through Communication, will take the students on an intellectual journey that develops their creative and critical reasoning skills, their problem analysis and problem solving skills, and their team-building and presentation skills. This course will challenge students, through an integrated curriculum of classes in liberal arts topics, innovation practices, team exercises, creative problem solving and other experiential and academic exercises, to help them learn how to communicate more effectively when building effective relationships, motivating others, and influencing outcomes.
High Performance Teams and Design Thinking—With the Dean of the Undergraduate Business School, Gordon McCray, designed and delivered a new High Performance Teams and Design-Thinking course targeting sophomores and junior students (cross-listed in the College and Business School). Building from a strong Liberal Arts foundation, the course develops students’ emotional intelligence with particular emphasis on gaining more intentionality in the choices they make in team/group settings. The course targets developing team followership and leadership behaviors, developing fluency in using design-thinking tools and techniques, and helping students understand the elements important in creating an innovative, feedback-rich culture. Action Learning Projects (ALP) were conducted using both internal and external clients—ALP #1—Admissions Office—Improving the Prospective Student Experience and ALP #2—Improving the Student IT Experience for Cisco Systems. The basic bootcamp course was introduced this Fall and course evaluations have not been collected yet but initial feedback from clients is quite positive. The course was already renewed for offering in Spring semester and we are over-subscribed for the class.
Schools of Business
MA Program—Organizational Behavior and Leadership course—Designed and delivered new leadership and organizational behavior class for all 120 MA students aimed at developing their emotional intelligence skills. Course evaluations are not public yet but qualitative feedback from students has been very positive. As part of this delivery, I sit on the faculty curriculum committee and we began to work on an integrated student experience as part of a larger initiative to infuse character and leadership development in all programs. Given what we learned in this pilot year, we have just begun working on a Leadership Consortium course which will integrate career development, ethics, organizational behavior, communication, mentoring, action learning and leadership next year.
Teambuilding Competitions for MBA and MA Program—Designed and trained 20+ faculty and senior staff to deliver a half-day teambuilding experience in Orientation. Previously this program was delivered by an outside consultant and we saved $30k by bringing the program in-house. Most importantly, this is the first time I have been able to convince faculty in an academic institution to facilitate these exercises and the resulting learning and relationship-building that ensued with students was significantly higher as a result. Subsequent discussions are underway to expand this format to create Orientation programs for undergraduate B-school students as well as MSA students as a way to jump-start the intellectual community building between faculty and students.
Undergraduate Organizational Behavior Courses—Revamped and infused two sections of a “macro” organizational behavior course with more applied and experiential simulations and activities. A required course for all B-school students, this Spring course is usually full of graduating Seniors who have delayed completing this one final requirement for graduation. Hence on the first day of classes, it is not uncommon to look out into a classroom resembling a sea of victims, prisoners or vacationers. At the end of class, I was very pleased to receive some of the highest course evaluations ever received for this required course. Moreover, these classes provided a fertile ground for exploration of undergraduate learning capacity and I was pleasantly surprised at how well our undergraduates managed business simulations that I had previously written/used for an MBA audience.
Design-Thinking Initiative—Working with the Senior Associate Dean for Medical Education and his senior staff, we launched a design-thinking project focused on revamping the Wake Forest Medical School curriculum. As a member of the Curriculum Steering Committee, I was the primary architect of the change initiative. During the course of the project, led over 150+ faculty and administrative leaders and nine design teams . Crafted and facilitated design-thinking retreats and team experiences for 100+ faculty, students, alumni and senior administration focusing on curriculum innovations. Currently we are in implementation planning for the first phase of the curriculum changes.