Leadership studies launches graduate program

Oleksandra Sopova, graduate student in computer science, shares her definition of leadership with Zenova Williams, graduate student in human ecology during the Graduate Student Leadership Development Program on Feb. 10, 2016, in the Leadership Studies Building. (EvanAnn Boose | The Collegian)

The Staley School of Leadership Studies will soon provide graduate students with an opportunity to receive a leadership degree.

Mary Kay Siefers, senior associate director and assistant professor of leadership studies, said the degree was originally geared toward undergraduate students. Only within the last year has there been discussion about adding a graduate program.

Siefers and Mary Tolar, director of the Staley School, both said the first discussions of a graduate leadership program stemmed from graduate engineering students explaining their interest in leadership.

Along with professors in the Staley School, Noel Schulz, associate dean of research and graduate programs in the College of Engineering, and Carol Shanklin, dean of the graduate school, are both involved in creating and identifying the need for the graduate program for leadership studies, Siefers said.

The Staley School is partnering with other departments on campus, and the program will be an interdisciplinary doctoral program in leadership communication, Tolar said. These collaborations are with the colleges of Business, Engineering, Agriculture and Education.

“When you think about leadership, we are asking leaders to solve complex challenges,” Siefers said. “You can’t solve complex problems just looking through one lens.”

Siefers said this program will also allow graduate students studying in other areas to study and learn leadership in nontraditional classroom settings. She said these students will not receive degrees in leadership, but many students who are studying in other programs will be given the opportunity to study leadership for several months.

The course is available in person and online under the Foundation of Leadership graduate course, Tolar said, but project leaders are exploring aspects of the program being offered fully online.

“We are always open to exploring the needs because we do see that leadership is needed in all sectors and all levels of an organization,” Tolar said. “We are committed.”