University of Georgia
September 2014
Educating Leaders
Student Affairs puts emphasis on leadership education

Student members of a LeaderShape “family cluster” celebrate the completion of their retreat.

Student Affairs puts emphasis on leadership education

UGA students can choose from dozens of programs to develop and hone their leadership skills.

On a late spring day in mid-May, Rachel Parks, a junior accounting major at the University of Georgia, sat with a small group of fellow students to begin an intense conversation. Just a couple of weeks earlier, Parks was wrapping up final exams, her mind focused on the accounting problems on the page. Now, however, instead of cash flows and balance sheets, she was addressing a different kind of problem—how to make an impact and lead people to a better world.

This conversation took place during the annual LeaderShape Institute, an extensive, six-day leadership development experience that features lectures, peer reflections and though-provoking simulations.

“I learned from people with amazing insight and different leadership experience than my own that I would have never encountered,” Parks said. “Being in such an intensive environment helped me grow tremendously.”

LeaderShape is just one of dozens of programs offered by UGA Student Affairs that primarily focus on educating leaders. 

Back on campus, at the Lake Herrick Recreational Sports Complex, nestled in the trees just beyond the last softball field, Maddie Ross worked with a new cohort of graduate students, guiding them through a difficult element on the outdoor challenge course. Ross, a UGA senior majoring in advertising with a minor in fashion merchandising, encouraged the group to trust each other, to listen to new ideas and to work together toward a solution.

As a UGA Outdoor Recreation challenge course facilitator, Ross leads groups toward solutions for challenges seemingly much smaller in scope than “creating a better world,” but the leadership expertise she has gained is just as valuable for attaining loftier goals.

“I’ve learned to talk to big groups, staying authoritative while still relating to them,” Ross explained. “I’ve learned the extreme importance of clear communication, to be decisive, to assess a group’s needs and execute a plan to fulfill those needs.”

“Learning to lead is a continuous process,” said Victor K. Wilson, vice president for student affairs. “From the moment students arrive on campus right up to Commencement, they are learning how to interact with others, to plan, give direction and support, and ensure successful follow-through and assessment. Our goal in Student Affairs is to provide students with exceptional learning experiences and opportunities to build those critical leadership skills, so they are prepared to go out and be leaders in the world’s communities.”

University administrators, parents and community members aren’t the only ones hoping to create able leaders out of today’s students. The students themselves are perhaps the most passionate about taking the mantle as tomorrow’s leaders.

“Everyone has greatness in them,” said Parks. “We have such a short time to make an impact. If I don’t make the world a better place, then who will and when will they start?” 

Parks, Ross and hundreds of their fellow students are providing a clear answer to that question: UGA students will make the world a better place, and they start now.

Following is a selection of UGA Student Affairs leadership education programs:

Dawg Camp (Center for Leadership and Service)

Dawg Camp is a way for incoming first-year students to find their place at UGA. Each camp has a specific focus—service, music, adventure and leadership—that allows students to get the most out of their Dawg Camp experiences and thrive in the first year of college

Disability Resource Center Speakers Bureau (Disability Resource Center)

Using disability education and advocacy as a framework, workshops and individual coaching sessions address communication, presentation and vocal articulation. Students learn about organizing information, how to tailor presentations to diverse audiences and persuasive speaking techniques. 

Freshman Greek Leaders (Greek Life)

Freshman Greek Leaders introduces first-year men and women to opportunities for campus involvement, leadership development and networking. Participants develop relationships with other future leaders, hone in on their own personal leadership skills and discuss critical issues in the life of the university and Greek communities.

Greek Ambassadors (Greek Life)

The Greek Ambassador Program is designed to positively promote Greek life on the UGA campus to prospective students, parents, faculty/staff and the Athens community. The program is a proactive method to engender a positive image of the Greek community, as well as educating prospective new members and current members of the Greek community.

IMPACT Service Breaks (Center for Leadership and Service)

The mission of the IMPACT program is to engage UGA students in an affordable, weeklong, substance-free, experiential service-learning project that encourages an understanding of pressing social issues in a significant way.

LeaderShape (Center for Leadership and Service)

The LeaderShape Institute strives to offer the highest quality state-of-the-art leadership programs to young men and women in all settings, to facilitate follow-up and advisory support to participants and sponsors, and to be a catalyst in expanding leadership programs centered on leading with integrity to new audiences.

Leadership UGA (Center for Leadership and Service)

Leadership UGA recognizes the truly outstanding leaders on this campus, provides them a unique opportunity to interact with each other and prominent leaders, and encourages them to become more aware of the social issues facing the campus, community, state, nation and world.

Outdoor Recreation Facilitator Training Program (Recreational Sports)

The UGA Challenge Course Facilitator Training Program is a series of trainings that are designed to teach group development leadership skills. Throughout the entire training series, students are trained on how to safely and effectively facilitate and lead not only groups, but individual leaders. 

Outdoor Recreation Leadership Development Model (Recreational Sports)

The UGA Outdoor Recreation Leadership Development Model strives to instill fundamentals of a balanced leadership skillset into each Recreational Sports trip leader. 

Residence Hall Association (University Housing)

The Residence Hall Association develops residence hall policies, procedures, programs and facilities to best serve the interests of students living on campus.

Sophomore Leaders Circle (Greek Life)

The Sophomore Leaders Circle is Greek Life’s premier leadership opportunity at UGA. Fraternity and sorority members are selected in their second year of membership in their respective fraternities and sororities to participate in a series of seminars and workshops covering personal development and leadership development.  This program prepares its participants to assume leadership roles in their individual chapters, in the Greek community and on campus.

Student Government Association (Tate Student Center)

The Student Government Association is the organized voice for each UGA student. SGA strives to protect students’ rights and to advocate on behalf of the students’ welfare in the university community. The organization also serves as a liaison between students and the administrative bodies on campus.

Student Health Advisory Committee (University Health Center)

The Student Health Advisory Committee provides a student voice in health center operations, promotes a positive and open channel of communication between the UHC staff and the student body, and contributes additional awareness of student issues to the health center administration.

Tate Leadership Scholars (Tate Student Center)

The Tate Leadership Scholars program purposefully invests in organizational leaders; empowers emerging leaders with essential skills to increase personal growth as well as overall effectiveness as a leader; creates opportunities for cross-organizational interaction and relationship building; provides opportunities for students to apply leadership experiences to positions beyond UGA; and establishes a network of leadership scholars to return and invest in future UGA student leaders.

University Housing Student Leadership (University Housing)

University Housing at the University of Georgia employs a full-time staff member to focus solely on leadership education and programs for students. Tamara Burke email, coordinator of student leadership, works out of Creswell Hall and may be contacted about myriad student leadership programs for on-campus residents. 

University Judiciary (Student Conduct)

University Judiciary is a student-run organization that helps guide students through the judicial process and conducts formal hearings for students charged with violating Code of Conduct regulations. UJ is involved in proactively educating university students through outreach programs and events geared toward teaching students about a variety of topics that concern the conduct process at UGA. 

University Union (Tate Student Center)

University Union provides unique entertainment for the campus community. A variety of shows, concerts, films, Dawgs After Dark, Homecoming activities and prolific speakers are just some of the activities organized by Union. Programs are selected by students, for students and the campus community, resulting in a wide variety of shows suited to the diverse tastes of the Athens audience.

—Stan Jackson