February 16, 2007
Leaders to be made this weekend at conference
Relationships, communities, classrooms, and careers are just some of the areas in which leadership skills can be applied; students can learn about all of these at tomorrow's leadership conference.
The Winter Leadership Conference aims to help students develop the leadership skills needed to excel in academic and social settings. Through discussion, activities, and debate, students will learn what it means to be a leader in today's society and how to apply the skills necessary to succeed.
The one-day conference is sponsored by the office of Student Activities and Leadership and the Office of Greek Life in conjunction with various other student-run societies. The event is open to all students as well as non-Case participants and will be held at Thwing Center tomorrow from 10 a.m. until 5 p.m.
As an unusual twist to the traditional keynote speaker, the leadership conference will host a panel of alumni as combined keynote speakers. The alumni will talk about the importance of leadership at the undergraduate level of education. In addition, they will discuss how the leadership skills they gained while at Case transferred to their careers.
"I am really looking forward to the keynote alumni panel discussion entitled 'Beyond the Classroom.' I feel that is it going to be a great opportunity for undergraduate students to see what their involvement now can do for them in their future careers. I also think it will be a great way to network and motivate students to get involved," said senior Melissa Leuch, a member of the Journey Council that helps organize the event.
The idea of having an alumni panel this semester came directly from suggestions fgiven at the Fall Leadership Conference.
"We looked for several Case Western Reserve alumni who were involved in their undergraduate experience and were able to speak about how their leadership roles at Case Western Reserve. We asked student affairs professionals to recommend some students that they had worked with in the past that they thought would fit this description," said Ryan McKinney, project manager for the Leadership Conferences.
Besides the keynote address, students will participate in three different sessions on leadership, choosing from a long list of presentations ranging from "Super-Troopers: Putting Stress Under Arrest" to "Leadership for Liberal Arts Majors: 'Hey, We Do That Too!'" The sessions have a wide variety of speakers, from Case undergraduates to faculty members to visiting speakers. But each session deals with aspects of leadership and how they apply to school and life decisions.
Undergraduate student Stuart Cohen is slated to give the talk "Ideas IN Action? Or Ideas–Inaction? Tips for getting yourself and your organization to follow through with those great ideas!"
"My goals are to help students understand why it's sometimes difficult to follow through with ideas, discuss some tips and strategies to overcome this, and look at how these strategies can be useful in life outside of student organizations," said Cohen about his session.
Cohen began attending the Leadership Conferences, both Winter and Fall, as a Delta Kappa Epsilon pledge in fall of 2002. Since then, he became involved with the actual presentation of the conferences. "Case's Leadership Conferences are a great service to the Case community, and I want to give back to the Case community in a way that has greatly benefited my leadership and personal development during my time here," said Cohen.
Other presenters include Wes Schaub, Director of Greek Life; Monica Young of Big Brothers Big Sisters of Greater Cleveland; and Ben McDonald, the president of BenchMark Learning.
This year, the conference is also being used as an event all new Greek sorority and fraternity members must attend, according to sophomore Jim Meehan, also a Journey Council member.
But Meehan feels that the conference can grow into something bigger than simply a required event.
"The only improvement I can imagine for the conference would have to start with the students' attitude towards it. Some people are enthusiastic about it and attend to make the most of the resources there. On the other hand, a large number of students simply see 'leadership conference' and say to themselves, 'That sounds boring,' or 'That's not for me.' If there was a way to get more students excited about it, the event might blossom into one the entire Case community truly embraces each semester," said Meehan.
But the only way to improve students' responses to the conference is to listen to their criticism and suggestions. The Journey Council does just that, taking into consideration all of the feedback from previous conferences in attempt to satisfy more student needs.
"I choose to get involved in the planning of the conference in hopes to get more students more interested in the conferences by catering to interests and needs that they have. I think that every semester is different and it is important to get feedback from undergraduates to determine the needs and interests that they have in order to choose appropriate speakers," said Leuch.
The planners of the conference take feedback from students seriously. "We look over evaluations from the previous conference and come up with new ideas for sessions, keynote addresses, structure of the conference, registration, theme, t-shirts, etc," said McKinney.
"One item I think we'd like to work more on is getting more non-Case students to attend and find creative ways for Case students to make important connections with students from other campuses," said McKinney.