by Helena Witzke
Communal and personal improvement through making better leaders is the focus of the Leadership Colloquium, an annual event held this past January at WMU. Two College of Arts and Sciences alumni, who were panelists in the event, helped to show their peers how to take the lead with their WMU degrees.
During the colloquium, participants shared their experiences and perspectives on the qualities of leadership with students, faculty and staff of WMU, as well as the greater Kalamazoo community. Dr. Timothy Greene, WMU provost and vice president for academic affairs, led the panel of discussants.
Dr. Dale Nesbary and Brenda L. Hunt, both CAS alumni, were two of the four featured panelists at the colloquium Jan. 19. Nesbary, president of Muskegon Community College, earned his master’s degree from WMU in public administration. Hunt, who earned her bachelor’s degree from WMU, also has a master’s in public administration (’86) from Western. She currently serves as the president of the Battle Creek Community Foundation.
Kathy B. Beauregard, WMU director of athletics, and Brad Black, president, CEO and founder of HUMANeX Ventures, were also panelists for the event, which was the best-attended session in memory.
Sponsored by the Office of Faculty Development, the colloquium was created to keep the tradition of continuous improvement in leadership alive. It is held every year, and centers on the sharing of ideas related to leadership on campus, in the larger community and the State of Michigan.
Dr. Andrea Beach, WMU associate professor in the Department of Educational Leadership, Research, and Technology and the director of the Office of Faculty Development, noted a highlight of the colloquium.
“It showcases leaders that have come out of Western,” she says. Panelists such as Hunt and Nesbary provide a “great opportunity for students to take a look at the people they will be in the future.”
Beach emphasized the importance of the colloquium as a way for students to learn how to take firmer hand not only in their academic, but personal education. The colloquium is also a way to recruit for the Academic Leadership Academy—an academic-year-long WMU program which offers faculty and staff an opportunity to hone crucial leadership skills. Members of the ALA showcased their special projects during the reception which followed the panel discussion.
Attendants of the colloquium responded warmly as to its impact. In an anonymous feedback survey, one participant wrote this piece of advice: “Follow your passions or ‘talents.’ Just because you have knowledge doesn’t mean you’re meant to do or use that for the rest of your life.”
Another noted changes to be made in everyday professional life: “Based upon today I plan to search for and be challenged rather than intimidated by risks and changes. I have also learned to continually ‘graduate’ and keep learning to fuel my talents and passion.”
This year had a landmark number of attendees; members of the campus and larger Kalamazoo communities came, and several WMU classes were required to attend as part of their curriculum in order to expose them to possibilities of life beyond the university setting. Next year’s colloquium will be held Oct. 7, 2012.
WMU Office of Faculty Development