On Thursday, May 16, the excitement was palpable as a significant number of faculty and staff teams (as well as a number of students and members of our Board of Trustees) met in the new Fels Center for the first ever Leadership Design Day. The number of attendees speaks volumes about how invested our community is in providing unique learning opportunities for our students. The Nichols culture has a level of caring and commitment that is very different from any other learning institution that I have been a part of.
The goal of the day was to provide an opportunity for these groups to freely share and discuss the ways we can best develop leadership skills in our students from the moment they arrive on campus. We wanted to emerge from the day with concrete ideas about how we will redesign our first year experiences in the classroom and beyond, in order to better highlight and develop the unique leadership potential within all of our students.
The process generated a wide range of proposals which outlined interesting and innovative ways to develop this potential. The signature first-year experience for Nichols students needed to: (1) Reach all first year students; (2) Include credit and non-credit components; and (3) Provide students with practical leadership opportunities. From this broad range of ideas, we can construct new curricular and co-curricular experiences for our students that will be unique, distinctive, and an appropriate fit for our campus culture and students.
A committee will further develop these ideas into an experience to be implemented during the Academic Year 2014-2015. In addition, some ideas that emerged may be feasible to implement this coming fall.
Based on the ideas and proposals presented, I am certain that our year-long, first-year student experience will involve challenge, competition, and plenty of opportunities for students to identify their own leadership abilities in whatever form they may take.