You may have read the great news that three May graduates of the U of M-- Fatima Noor, Chimene Okere and Taylor Dodd-- have accepted presidential appointments with the Obama administration that will continue until January 2017. I want to congratulate them, and also put their achievement in a larger context. Among the many accomplishments during their academic careers at UM are a number of connections to leadership programs coordinated and developed by the Division of Student Affairs. Again and again we are discovering that the more our students are engaged in student affairs activities the more likely their probability of academic and professional success.
Each of these three students was involved with multiple leadership training initiatives through the Office of Student Leadership and Involvement and their LEAD (Leadership Education and Development) programs. Through partnerships with local leaders, LEAD strives to educates develops and retains the next generation of Young Leaders for the Mid-South community. Associate Dean of Student Leadership and Involvement Dr. Justin Lawhead, and Senior Coordinator of Leadership Programs Jon Campbell have many success stories to share. Here is a sampling:
- Emerging Leaders—this leadership scholarship community of 186 students posted impressive academic success statistics with 13% of them earning a perfect 4.0 GPA for the semester and all four years GPAs were above 3.4, and first year students finishing with an average 3.65 GPA. The senior class developed and implemented four community projects with Lifeline 2 Success, The Kroc Center, Agape, and Leadership Memphis.
During the sophomore level, students participated in IDEAD projects which allow students to complete a short, 50 hour project with a company or department. Alexis Bingham so impressed ALSAC/ St. Jude with her ideas for a branding strategy for ALSAC that she was offered a handsome internship following her presentation.
- Tiger Leadership Institute—a cohort based leadership training experience, now exceeds 500 graduates over the five-year life span of this program, growing from 47 to 130 students in the past year alone. The program was expanded to include a cohort at the Lambuth Campus. 91% of the first year participants are re-enrolled for the upcoming Fall semester.
- Professional Connections— These monthly meetings focus on interviewing, personal branding with an emphasis on utilizing social media, and a review of personal resumes. Forty-three students participated in the spring seminar. We are also proud to have our community partner The Lipscomb and Pitts Breakfast Club continue to lend significant support by recruiting professionals who can provide important feedback on how to successfully transition from academia to the workplace.
- Lunch with a Leader – The popular series, focusing on highlighting the strength of leadership in the Memphis community recently hosted speakers Mike Womack (Sr. VP of HR Customer Satisfaction, Autozone), Nancy Williams (former Executive Director, Child Advocacy Center), Amy Weirich, (District Attorney, Shelby County), and Edith Kelly Green (The first African American female vice president and former chief sourcing officer for Memphis-based FedEx Express and currently the largest multi-unit franchise owner of Lenny’s Sub Shop Franchise). The upcoming year will focus on community efforts to retain and engage talent in the Mid-South region.
LEAD is an enormous benefit to our students, and through community based co-curricular programming, LEAD students learn about problem solving, team building, critical thinking and other important workplace skills. LEAD makes the essential connections between the classroom and the real world.
It is impressive work.
M. David Rudd, President