Last Friday was the first session of SPSU’s new Women’s Leadership Initiative. About 30 women faculty and staff are part of this program, and we will be having seven formal sessions during the spring semester. I have been working with two faculty members and two staff members to put this together, and my goals include the following:
- Supporting SPSU’s strategic plan, which includes providing leadership development opportunities for women and people from underrepresented groups, so that they will be qualified for and interested in leadership opportunities at SPSU;
- Pursuing the larger goal of increasing the number and percentage of women students at SPSU (by expanding the number of women mentors and role models);
- Creating an environment of leadership development on campus;
- Developing a program that is repeatable and reproducible, both at SPSU in the future and on other campuses (initially, I hope that other colleges and universities in Georgia can use our template, perhaps distributed through the Georgia Association for Women in Higher Education);
- Emphasizing support for women, to combat the stereotyping about women that has been cropping up on campus recently (or perhaps I have just become more aware of examples lately); and
- Establishing SPSU as a leader in thinking about – and doing something about – leadership development in higher education.
One of the things we did on Friday was ask all the participants to take a note card and write down their own expectations of the program – and seal the card in an envelope addressed to themselves. At our last session, at the end of April, everyone will get their card back and have a chance to assess how well this spring’s initiative met their expectations. I will be fascinated to hear the connections – and the disconnects – between the expectations and the reality of the program.
This initiative is off to a good start, and I look forward to the journey this semester!