Emory Report
September 25
, 2006
Volume 59, Number 5


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September 25, 2006
Student activities office name change reflects new focus

BY beverly clark

For students seeking to expand their extracurricular horizons, Emory’s newly minted Center for Student Leadership and Engagement (CSLE) is ready to serve.

The CSLE reflects a more concentrated mission—and a new name—for what was formerly known as the Student Activities Office. The President’s Cabinet approved the change this past July.

“The name change and the renewed focus on leadership better reflect what we are all about, which is helping students discover their gifts and develop their leadership skills outside of the classroom,” said CSLE Director Karen Salisbury.

The changes reflect a year’s worth of work to more finely tune student activities to reflect the University’s core values to produce ethically engaged leaders, she said. More leadership programming for students has been developed, but work is ongoing to fulfill the center’s newly focused vision.

“One important part of leadership is for leaders to learn how to get groups of ordinary people to do extraordinary things,” said Senior Vice President and Dean for Campus Life John Ford. “We hope that the Center for Student Leadership and Engagement will help our students develop those skills so that they can use them on campus and in their leadership roles after graduation.”

The center’s staff began surveying students and conducting focus groups last year, and leadership development quickly emerged as a key area that needed additional growth. Staff members also traveled to other colleges and universities both locally and around the country to see firsthand how other leadership programs worked and were developed.

Student activities had sponsored a popular “Emerging Leaders” retreat for freshman for several years, but other such formal programming was lacking.

To answer the need, several workshops, under the separate themes of “Real World Workshops” and “Leadership Lifesavers” are set for this semester, with topics such as “Networking in the Real World” and “How to Market Your Leadership Skills.” Such workshops will help the CSLE expand its mentoring reach to more students, Salisbury said.

“We’re looking to appeal to a broad base of students. Most students aren’t presidents of organizations, but many are still involved and provide leadership in different ways. We want to aid their engagement in society and help them fulfill their potential,” Salisbury said.

The CSLE also sent two students this summer to the national LeaderShape Institute, a renowned leadership training program, and plans to send at least two more students next year. The idea is that these students will come back to campus and implement what they learned, and share their knowledge with other students.

“One of the most important things I learned is that to be a leader you don’t have to be elected or in the spotlight,” said one of the students, Emory College sophomore Maria Town. “Leadership is about doing your very best with what you are passionate about, which is very much in line with what the center is striving to do.”

The CSLE will unveil a new Web site by mid-October, and work is ongoing to develop stronger partnerships with other offices around the University. The CSLE also is working with development officers to find more funding resources.

Another key component of the CSLE’s new focus is a more comprehensive leadership recognition program. “There are a lot of high-powered awards, but we have so many students involved in remarkable ways that need to be acknowledged for the work they do,” Salisbury said.

The center is still involved in traditional student activities programming, such as the Fridays@10 entertainment program for students. Staff members also provide direct advising to the Student Government Association, Student Programming Committee and other groups, but Salisbury said, “our new focus is transforming how students will engage in extracurricular activities.”