Continuing a Legacy of Preparing Responsible Leaders
Dr. Saundra J. Tracy,
In my travels on behalf of the College, I have the privilege of getting to know many of our alumni throughout the country. Alma alumni represent a wide range of professions, generations and life experiences. A common theme is the significant way alumni make a difference in their companies and communities. Alma alumni do very well in their professional roles, often gaining great recognition for their work. They also are active in their churches, serve on the boards of non-profit organizations, mentor young people, and contribute in many ways to the health and well being of their communities. Alma College long has prepared outstanding leaders — confident, capable and caring leaders — who use the opportunity afforded them by their Alma education for something greater than their own gain.
This issue of Accents profiles a few of these alumni leaders. Some gain national and even international visibility through their accomplishments. Others quietly work in their little corners of the world, sharing their talents in their workplaces and through volunteer service. We are very proud of all of their accomplishments.
Alma College has the challenge to ensure that this leadership legacy continues by finding new ways to prepare today’s students to follow in these alumni footsteps. Consequently, we are in the process of creating some exciting new programs with the goal that all Alma students will graduate with the knowledge, skills and commitments of responsible leadership, regardless of area of study. These programs build on what Alma College already does well: help students explore their values and sense of purpose, develop a depth of knowledge in a specific discipline, and offer students opportunities to apply their learning beyond the campus.
Alma’s emphasis on responsible leadership is a direct response to the needs we so often hear articulated by prospective employers and community leaders. These attributes can be summarized as graduates committed to the common good that can effectively lead change and serve as effective stewards of the organizational resources entrusted to their care. We believe this describes a “responsible leader,” the integration of the outcomes of Alma’s mission to prepare graduates who serve generously, lead purposefully and are stewards of the resources with which they are entrusted.
Let me offer one example of how responsible leadership is alive and well on the Alma Campus today. Shortly after the Hurricane Katrina disaster, I issued an invitation to the campus to participate in a year of service in response to this disaster. I knew immediate interest would run high but fully anticipated it would wane significantly as time passed. However, I underestimated the commitment to responsible leadership at Alma. Numerous student groups have raised funds for disaster relief. Personnel policies were amended to allow leave time for relief work. Panels have discussed the issues of race and social class associated with this disaster; classes are studying the disaster from multiple perspectives. Two spring trips to conduct relief work are planned in March, and a May Spring Term course on the Gulf Coast will both study and offer service. Alma College’s responsible leaders indeed have committed to a year-long effort of service, leadership and stewardship!
I look forward to sharing the exciting details of our new plans on developing responsible leadership with you over the next several months. Thank you for challenging today’s students to follow in the leadership footsteps that you, our alumni, model so well.