VPUE’s Leadership Intensive program more popular than anticipated

April 17, 2014, 3:40 a.m.

The Vice Provost for Undergraduate Education’s Leadership Intensive program, a three-week program offered to incoming juniors, received more applications than expected by the inaugural offering’s deadline last week, according to administrators.

“There was absolutely considerable interest…definitely more than we thought,” said Lisa Bilgen, the program’s associate director.

Set to run in September around the same period as the sophomore Arts Intensive program, the program aims to develop leadership skills in participating students.

Bilgen said that she and Vice Provost of Undergraduate Education Harry Elam had worked on creating a program focused on juniors for more than a year. After reaching out to faculty from the undergraduate and professional schools, Bilgen formed a curriculum that centered on building leadership in students.

The program is based largely on two of the four main goals of the Study of Undergraduate Education at Stanford (SUES), according to Bilgen.  Those goals include “honing skills and capacities” as well as “cultivating personal and social responsibility.”

“There is a strong emphasis on communication skills and the ability to work collaboratively in diverse teams,” Bilgen said. “Emotional intelligence therefore plays a large role. I would say also definitely giving students the opportunity to think creatively in terms of leading or solution finding.”

Twenty-four students will be selected from the pool of applicants and grouped into teams of six, according to Albert Camarillo, professor of history and the program’s faculty director.

For each of the four teams, there will be two consulting faculty and two student staff members – one undergraduate and one graduate – mentoring the students.

“[The groups will] break out into themes – the environment, education, social justice and public health,” Camarillo said. “The groups will have the opportunity to sink their teeth into these fundamental issues with mentors that will work with each group of students and optimize everyone’s leadership role in the group.”

Beyond the small seminars and mentorship that students will receive during the program, the students will also have the opportunity to receive support from Bilgen herself if they wish to continue their leadership projects over the academic year, for which 10 grants will be offered.

“Whereas most other September Studies programs last only the three weeks in September, my position actually remains with the cohort for the next two years, helping students create their leadership pathway through Stanford,” Bilgen said.

She noted that that pathway could include finding internships or developing helix courses or independent study projects.

“They will create a leadership plan during the program and I will work with them to bring that plan to fruition,” she said.

Camarillo emphasized that the program’s principal objective is conveying to students a sense of the nuances and the many facets of leadership, a sentiment shared by Bilgen.

“Leadership is manifested in so many different ways,” Camarillo said. “I wanted to shatter the myth that leadership is when people have strong personalities and they do things by themselves – that’s the stereotypical image of a leader. Leadership is way more diverse.”

“I guess my biggest goal would be have students come away with a broader definition of leadership than they may have had before,” he added. “We’re also going to do a lot of work on the actual skills they’ll need so I hope, at the end, they feel like they’ve advanced in some way from wherever they started.”

Contact Catherine Zaw at czaw13 ‘at’ stanford ‘dot’ edu.

Catherine Zaw was formerly the Managing Editor of News for Vol. 245 and Vol. 246. To contact her, please email [email protected].

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