Fiat Leadership

This spring, some Alfred University students have enrolled in an inaugural course on leadership, and one that will be part of a set of courses that will comprise our emerging minor in leadership. Students will have the opportunity to make a significant impact on our University—and earn a portion of a prize totaling $5,000.

Gabrielle Gaustad, our new dean of the Inamori School of Engineering, and I are co-teaching “LEAD 300: Improving Alfred University” this spring (some slots still remain for any students who want to enroll!). For the first several weeks of the course, we are going to introduce students to leaders, primarily alumni, from a variety of professional fields, and we will also provide some insight into the environment in which Alfred University, as well as other colleges and universities, operate.

Then it will be the students’ turn. Divided into teams, students will be asked to develop a specific idea for improving Alfred University, in consultation with Gabrielle and me, and with assistance from appropriate Alfred University personnel to research and refine their proposals. The moment of truth will come when they present their ideas to a panel of distinguished alumni, who will determine the winning team.

Sherry Walton ’80, ’88 MS and Trustee Charles Joyce have committed $10,000 for the best idea; $5,000 will go to the University for implementation of the top proposal and the remaining $5,000 will be divided among the members of the winning student team.

Of course, the big winner will be our University, especially if the ideas developed by our student teams can be implemented to enhance our overall student experience and reputation.

We are grateful to Sherry and Charlie for making this concept of a leadership course and competition a reality. It is yet another example of an innovative approach to effecting meaningful change to benefit our University and our students.

Sherry and Charlie have committed to helping in other ways as well through a $550,000 gift, payable over the next five years. Their gift will help to underwrite the start-up costs of the new leadership minor. The minor will be open to students from all of our academic units. It has emerged through a partnership between our College of Business and the Judson Leadership Center. Abby Griffith, director of the Judson Leadership Center, Diana Maguire, assistant professor of management in the College of Business, and Mark Lewis, dean of the College of Business have played lead roles in developing the minor.

Sherry and Charlie’s support of the new minor is not a surprise. Sherry is a founding member and now chair of the advisory board for the Judson Leadership Center. Charlie has been a member of our Board of Trustees for nearly 20 years. Both of them are prominent community and business leaders.

Through their work with the University, Sherry and Charlie have come to know and greatly respect Kathy Woughter ’93 MS, our dynamic vice president for Student Affairs. Kathy’s mark on our University has been profound and will forever be treasured.

Sherry and Charlie’s recent philanthropic commitment will help to assure that we attain a worthy successor to Kathy, effective with the coming academic year. Long-term, we would like to endow the vice president of Student Affairs position. Having an endowed vice president for Student Affairs position would be a first, as far as we are aware, for any college or university in the country.

We are so fortunate to have people like Sherry and Charlie support Alfred University in innovative and creative ways. Please join me in thanking them for their wonderful philanthropic investment and leadership.

Fiat Leadership!