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The Center for Leadership and Service had its grand opening on Tuesday in its new home, the Julian A. McPhee University Union (UU) (room 217 L), to give students information about the wide range of leadership opportunities and services the center will provide to students, faculty and community members.
Assistant Director of the Center of Leadership and Service Jason Mockford said the development of this program has been in the works since the early 2000s, while former programs were occupying the newly established center’s space.
“There was a lot of research done for what employers are looking for and their responses to Cal Poly graduates,” Mockford said. “Overwhelmingly, employers were responding that our Learn By Doing approach is fantastic. What they are lacking is leadership skills.”
The funding for the center is allocated through the state budget, according to Mockford. The money will be dispersed into funding three categories: salaries, facilities (furniture, computers, etc.) and programming.
One goal of the center is to unite the different “pockets of leadership” that exist on campus, Mockford said. A leadership or advisory council consisting of different leadership-based groups on campus is definitely in the works.
“We want to bring together the key stakeholders and make sure we are representing more than just staff and students,” he said. “They both should have representation at the table.”
Finding commonalities is key among different leadership groups. It is a way to bring the community together, build off one another and provide support, Mockford said.
Additionally, the center is in the process of developing a leadership certificate program where students can get leadership experience in a small group setting, as well as accomplishing tasks through a Learn By Doing approach.
“It’s not as helpful to sit down and watch a PowerPoint slide on how to be a leader than it is to try a leadership role,” Mockford said. “You are learning in an environment that’s safe. That is the approach we are taking.”
A key element of the center will be focused on its consulting service, which is available for students by appointment or walk-in to seek advice on any topics related to leadership. According to Mockford, appointments are an excellent way for club officers to get their questions answered on club transitions or overall club procedures.
Another opportunity the center offers is a book club that will meet weekly to discuss literature that encompasses leadership motifs. Workshops and seminars will also be readily available for students to sign up for, which will hone in and refine their leadership skills.
The center will also provide a podcast on iTunes where students can learn about leadership styles and techniques from their peers and other faculty on campus.
Collaboration is a crucial part to the center’s success. Partnering with New Student and Transition Programs, Pulse, Cal Poly Housing and The Mustang Success Center, Mockford is bringing Jeff Stafford from Orange Slice to lead a half-day inclusive leadership and strengths quest in May.
“The sky is the limit as far as what we are able to accomplish,” Mockford said. “Engaging people from other areas helps the center, and the staff here is what other people need; it helps us share resources.”
Graduate assistant Christian Martens stressed the importance of all students having the ability to expand upon their leadership skills and to break the stigma of leadership being viewed at times as an unattainable entity.
“Oftentimes, we see leadership as an (Associated Students, Inc.) president or very few people and far between,” he said. “But that’s not what leadership is. If you look at your future and where you want to be, learning the skills of leadership can give you so much opportunity in life.”