Leadership concentration proves popular, helpful to students

Leaders.
History books are filled with them, the populace complains about them and politicians
campaign to be them. Learning how to be a leader is a task that can greatly
help those in the work force.

William
Woods University’s communications department offers a leadership concentration,
now in its second year.  Four courses
teach the specifics of interpersonal communication, small group leadership,
logic and persuasion, and visionary leadership. 
 
Dr.
Aimee Sapp, chair of the art and humanities division, said a leadership
concentration is a great option for students who are interested in both
communication and business.
 
“Leading
a group of people and managing a company take a completely different set of
skills,” Sapp said. “The nice thing about leadership is that it’s a skill set
that you can learn about and harvest in yourself. It can carry you into any
area that you go into after graduation.”  
 
The
leadership concentration does benefit those interested in motivational and
professional speaking, but the main focus of the concentration is teaching
people how to motivate and assemble people to do things, to better themselves,
their companies and their families.
 
“This concentration is really great
to pair with public relations, because you only need a few more classes,” Mary
Raines Scriber, a senior history and communications major from Bentonville,
Ark., said. “I know that everything I’ve learned will be useful no matter what
field I go into.” 


Melissa
Alpers-Springer, assistant professor of communications, teaches the small group
concentration that focuses on group dynamics
 
 “The focus is to talk about the dynamics that
work within a small group,” she said, “and then to focus, as a leader, on how
you can help move it in the right direction. Generally, groups are formed to
complete tasks, so it’s important that somebody … manage the climate so
everyone feels a part of it—so everyone has a voice, but at the same time
moving everybody toward the goal.”
 
But
Alpers-Springer notes that, “even if you are not a leader you still understand
from the classes that you are part of a group and that you have an ethical
responsibility to make sure that the group task gets completed.”
 
“We’ve
had a lot of student interest, a lot of students asking questions about it,”
Sapp said of the new concentration, “and as the numbers in that particular
interest grow, so will the courses that we offer for it.”
 
The
concentration was student driven because enough students on campus expressed
interest in learning how to lead. End-of-course evaluations are some of the
highest the department receives.
 
“We
always develop courses thinking of the end result—how can students use this in
their careers, how does it help their overall majors,” Sapp said. “This course’s
sequences certainly do that, but I think an added benefit is a lot of students
say that every single thing they are studying is something they can use right
now.”
 
Eliza
Payne, an MBA graduate student from of Zionsville, Ind., was the first to complete the concentration
as an undergraduate. She now works as a graduate assistant in the university
advancement and alumni office.
 
“I
especially think it’s important to really apply during your college days
because it’s when you are growing the most and it’s when you are able to kind
of play around and do whatever you want and not face horrible consequences,” she
said.
 
Payne
recognizes how often she applies what she learned on a regular basis.
 
 “I actually, literally, use aspects from the
leadership concentration every day. Just recognizing different leadership
qualities, I have seen what is effective and what isn’t.”
 
Alpers-Springer
said the major is “becoming more common,” but is rare enough that “I think it
would call attention to you as a job applicant. I also think that these are
necessary skills wherever you go because human endeavors are groups.”

CUTLINES:
Dani Moritz, Melissa Alpers-Springer and Nick Hoover discuss the assignment.

Melissa Alpers-Springer oversees the work of (left to right) Katy Carron, Courtney Libbrecht, Carson Boehm and Chanel Benson.

Alix Fiorino, Katherine Wortmann, Laura Hornecker and John Couper work on their project, as Melissa Alpers-Springer looks on.

Alix Fiorino researches information for her assignment.