February 2, 2004

Campus Leaders Converge

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Leaders of Cornell clubs and student groups united early Saturday morning in Willard Straight Hall for the third annual Student Leadership Institute.

Sponsored by the Student Activities Office, the filled-to-capacity event brought together 250 leaders of many of the diverse student organizations on campus.

The day began with a keynote address by President Jeffrey S. Lehman ’77.

“I commend you for the spirit of service and the spirit of inquiry which brought you here today,” Lehman said.

In his address, he highlighted the content of two books he read on the subject of leadership: Leading Minds: An Anatomy of Leadership and Primal Leadership: Realizing the Power of Emotional Intelligence.

Lehman concluded his discussion of leadership mentioning his recent interview with Jim Knowles ’87, the new football head coach. In Knowles, Lehman said he saw the properties of what makes a good leader.

“Now it is time for you to begin your seven-hour pseudo football game,” Lehman concluded.

After the keynote address, participants split up to attend a selection of seminars with subjects related to issues faced by student group leaders. The seminars were grouped in “quarters” enabling participants to attend four of them.

Subjects of the seminars encompassed topics from how to get your student organization involved in the community to fundraising to soliciting alumni support to what should be done in the future of Willard Straight Hall.

“It’s a great opportunity for student leaders everywhere,” said David Katz-Doft ’05 the executive director of the Cornell Concert Commission. Katz-Doft had attended the Student Leadership Institute last year and found it helpful for his organization. After listening to a presentation on diversity in student organizations, several changes were made in the practices of the Concert Commission.

“Its good to see Cornell fostering this kind of atmosphere,” said William Gordon ’05, the selection director of the Concert Commission.

Cornell provided every attendee an extensive packet filled with information about the days events and other materials, even providing breakfast and lunch to attendees as well.

Along with the professional atmosphere, the student activities office coordinated all of the seminars. Many of the seminars were discussion oriented so student leaders had the opportunity to talk with each other about various challenges they face in their respective organizations.

Jennifer Davis, assistant dean of students, has been part of the team that organizes the Student Leadership Institute since its inception three years ago. According to Davis the event has grown in size since the beginning. This is the first year that there has been a waiting list.

Along with the increased popularity has been an increase in the richness of the seminar offerings. Now there are several “tracks” or areas of interests which student leaders can take throughout the day, including such subjects as finances or managing meetings.

“Students love and get something out of it,” Davis said.

Archived article by Ted Van Loan