Free summer leadership course sees overwhelming success

The class served more than 4,600 students, with lessons from several TROY figures, including Dr. Jack Hawkins, Jr., Chancellor.

The class served more than 4,600 students, with lessons from several TROY figures, including Dr. Jack Hawkins, Jr., Chancellor.

Troy University’s first free summer course was an overwhelming success with students from many walks of life.

Leadership 101, offered free of charge this summer, saw more than 4,600 students register and more than 1,600 receive certificates of completion.

“Our free Leadership 101 course was more successful than we could ever have imagined,” said Dr. Kerry Palmer, Associate Dean in the College of Education and one of the primary instructors in the course. “When designing the course, we had no way of knowing how many would take it. However, we ended up with over 1,600 students enrolled in June and over 3,000 students enrolled in July. I believe this course was successful because the topics were relevant to a broad audience – especially considering everything that has been going on the world.”

With course content designed to equip students to thrive in a post-pandemic world, Leadership 101 featured lectures and materials from some of TROY’s most well-known faculty, including Dr. Jack Hawkins Jr., Chancellor; Dr. Dionne Rosser-Mims, Dean of the College of Education; and Dr. John Kline, Executive Director of the Institute for Leadership Development.

The class reached students of a variety of backgrounds, including current college students and respected professionals.

“The discussion forums highlighted the most interesting dynamic of this course. Our oldest student was 84, and our youngest was 14,” Palmer said. “We had high school students, incoming college freshmen, undergraduates attending other institutions, college professors, law enforcement leaders, and even senior military officers. The diversity of age and experience allowed students to learn from each other in addition to learning from us. Those forums produced the most unique educational environment I have ever encountered.”

One of those incoming freshmen, Theo Hornsby, saw the class as an invaluable opportunity he needed to take.

“For most of my high school career, Dr. Palmer was my high school headmaster,” Hornsby said. “He offered a leadership course for students. I always wanted to take the course, but due to unfortunate schedule conflicts, I was unable to do so. When I saw Leadership 101, I recognized this as a great opportunity to learn from Dr. Palmer as well as many other respected Troy University leaders,” he said.

The class equipped him with tools he will use moving forward academically and professionally.

“Leadership 101 has provided me with a skillset that has taught me to be intentional in my interactions,” he said. “I’ve learned the importance of taking advantage of opportunities and setting goals for myself. I’ve learned that self-awareness is an integral step in developing my leadership skills. Leadership 101 helped me step outside myself and re-evaluate the approach I might normally take in a situation. It helped me see that leadership must include an understanding not just of myself, but of others.”

Rachael Conrad, an adjunct business professor at TROY, enrolled in the course to improve her knowledge base and network with other like-minded people.

“I love to learn,” Conrad said. “The experience was enlightening. I had never seen multiple professors conduct a single class together as one. One lesson I took away from it is that one needs to have a short-term goal to focus on and push them forward. We wrote out our strengths and communication preferences, really diving into looking at who we are and who we can become. What you put into a course is what you get out. If individuals really dug deep, pursuing the concepts and direction of the course, they received a greater benefit.”

The course will pay dividends down the line for those who completed it.

“The fact that Troy University would offer this course for free speaks volumes about their passion for shaping and equipping future generations to lead,” Hornsby said. “This course provides a firm foundation for what it means to be an effective leader. I look forward to building upon this rock throughout my time at Troy University and beyond.”

Leadership 101’s tremendous success could lead to more course offerings.

“There is certainly demand for an offering of this sort in the future,” Palmer said. “I have received several inquiries about what we may do, as well as suggestions about courses that may be well received by the public. This type of interest is worthy of investigation.”