Expanding Leadership Education

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In 2013, the University administration and key donors proposed to create a ‘leadership college.’ The purpose of this college was to provide an intensive leadership program for 144 select undergraduate students. Immediately, the project was opposed by the Students’ Union as elitist and unnecessary, especially in a year that saw tuition go up in order to cover a revenue shortfall.

I was on council then and actively opposed efforts to support this initiative. This opposition did not deter the administration and they continued rapidly changing the proposal. Nevertheless, the university was steadfast and pushed through. Eventually, they received the Student Union’s consent on the condition that the college would reach one third of students with intensive programming.

This has not happened.

Rather, the college has continued with their original proposal and have said that their target of reaching 10,000 students is an ‘aspiration.’ As it stands now, they have continued open public lectures and sponsored already existing leadership summits. While these initiatives are welcomed, this does not fulfill their goal of reaching 10,000 students.

In addition, the college has consistently been unable to reach their targets of enrolling 144 students. Nor have they came remotely close to engaging a majority of campus. This is despite their high levels of funding and focused attention from university administration. In short, the project has been mismanaged and continues to benefit a small number of students.

Before I continue, let me be clear that I am not criticizing the students in the program. Allocating millions of dollars to a few students would easily enrich their experience. Rather, I am criticizing the way it was implemented. To illustrate this, one might apply the university's own model to compare the average cost of education for a regular student compared to a student at the leadership college.

Regular Student
Average Cost = University Operating Budget / Number of Students
Average Cost = $1,094,000,000 / 37,830 Students
Average Cost = $28,918.85

Leadership College Student
Average Cost = Leadership College Operating Budget / Number of Students
Average Cost = $22,223,000 / 125 Students*
Average Cost = $177,784.00

*Note that 125 students is a vision for the leadership college, but only 70 students applied for enrolment in the first year of operation.

 

action

Advocate for increased funding to already existing leadership programs so that they benefit at least 10,000 existing students.

Initiatives include: conference funding, undergraduate research initiative, study abroad, and other university programs.