College of Business: University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

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An Obligation to Lead


by Sarah Small

This weekend, 130 leaders will be created at the College of Business’ second annual Sleeman Leadership Institute.

All James Scholar freshmen and James Scholar freshmen nominees will participate in Institute to develop themselves as leaders. The Institute is provided by the Sleeman Endowment, Illinois Leadership Center, PricewaterhouseCoopers and the Office of Undergraduate Affairs.

“The focus is to educate students on the true meaning of leadership in business and the true meaning of leadership at large,” said Ben Chandler assistant director of Undergraduate Affairs.

The Sleeman Leadership Institute was created thanks to an endowment by Thomas Sleeman, who graduated from the College in 1954, and his wife Nancy. John Hedeman, assistant dean, honors, said that Sleeman approached the College in 2004 wanting to endow a program that would provide leadership training for undergraduate students. At the time the College was in the process of revamping its James Scholars Program and it was decided that the Sleeman Leadership Institute would be a good addition for honors students.

“It lets them see the way in which leadership impacts them as students in their daily lives and later as professionals,” Hedeman said.

At the two-day institute, the participating students will split into teams of ten where they will develop their own individual understandings of leadership, Hedeman said. Speakers, videos, workshops and group discussions will help the students create their own plans for assuming leadership roles. Helping the students with their plans will be student facilitators, juniors and seniors in the College, and professional facilitators, partners and other professionals from PricewaterhouseCoopers.

“The Institute is about getting them to think everyone is a potential leader,” Hedeman said. “You can plan for leadership.”

The Institute is a unique opportunity for the students, because the College puts heavy emphasis on leadership development for juniors and seniors, but this is one of few opportunities for underclassmen to plan for leadership, Hedeman said.

“Here we take a proactive approach, rather than a reactive approach, to leadership development,” Chandler said.

Chandler and Hedeman said last year’s Institute was successful, and they are hoping the students who participate in the event come away with an understanding of leadership and a plan for how to apply themselves as leaders both in the College community and after graduation.

“It’s to have students realize they have an obligation to be leaders in professional business,” Hedeman said. “Leadership isn’t about being CEO, it’s about making decisions that have a positive impact.”

UIUC College of Business