A change is in the air.
Soon, you’ll be seeing billboards, commercials and advertisements about Troy University that feature the new slogan “Lead Change” — a slogan that reflects the University’s strong reputation and commitment to building leaders throughout the world.
“One of the most important things a university can do is prepare its students to become leaders,” said Dr. Jack Hawkins, Jr., Chancellor of Troy University. “We’re in a critical state in America. Daily we talk about the shortage of well-qualified leaders. We see that as a primary mission for Troy University, to prepare leaders who can help guide this nation, and we’re working hard to do that. We take seriously the preparation of our students for leadership roles. We want our students to be servant leaders and that begins with a sense of service and a willingness to give to the communities that will embrace them and that need them.”
TROY has developed leaders for decades, and the new campaign seeks to highlight the ways in which the University has fostered the qualities that encompass those individuals.
The University offers all its worldwide students leadership education at every level — including leadership tracks in several different fields of study, a minor, a Ph.D. in global leadership, campus organizations and real-world leadership opportunities through internships and partnerships with major companies.
“In addition to our leadership courses for undergraduate students, we have now launched the Global Leadership Ph.D.,” said Dr. Kerry Palmer, Dean of the College of Education, which houses the Department of Leadership Development and Professional Studies. “We will be welcoming a third cohort of outstanding students into this program in August.”
During the summer of 2020, in the midst of the global COVID-19 pandemic, TROY launched Leadership 101, the University’s first free online course.
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. Hawkins; Dr. Dionne Rosser-Mims, former Dean of the College of Education; and Dr. John Kline, Executive Director of the Institute for Leadership Development
Nearly 5,000 people participated in the course, ranging from ages 14 to 85.
“We felt that it was important to demonstrate that TROY is a leader in both online education and leadership development, especially during the uncertainty of the early weeks of our pandemic shutdown,” Dr. Palmer said. “This practical course was well received, with greater than 90% of survey respondents giving us the highest scores available.”
“Lead Change” also reflects the University’s efforts to enhance leadership skills in the professional world through Continuing Education and Outreach, which offers training, consulting and executive coaching aimed at enhancing today’s leaders even as the University prepares the leaders of tomorrow.
The University is reaching into surrounding communities to foster leadership amongst the populace.
“The College of Education has recently partnered with the city of Troy to launch ‘Catalyst Troy,’” Dr. Palmer said. “Catalyst Troy is a community leadership initiative geared toward Troy citizens who would not normally participate in formal programs. The program is designed to empower citizens to engage in community leadership at the grassroots level as they learn how their local government is organized.”
Leadership opportunities for TROY students arise through the Office of Civic Engagement’s Civic Scholars Program.
This twice-yearly cohort gives students the chance to serve as leaders in community outreach areas, including Campus Kitchens, Community Gardens, the Real Talk on Race Mentoring Project and the Democracy Project.
“These students agree to sign up to work with us for 10 hours during a semester, and they work with one of those four initiatives,” said Lauren Cochran, Coordinator of Civic Engagement. “They go through specific training on how to serve in the community, and also they learn about how to move within their specific area — for instance, those who work in Community Gardens learn how best to communicate with young kids.”
Those who have participated in the Civic Scholars Program gain knowledge and experience that helps them become leaders in the communities as well as their professional lives.
“Many of our students who have volunteered tell me later that they’ve never done a lot of public speaking or led a discussion before or had courage to get up in front of other people, so we’ve seen this to be quite a development tool for students,” Cochran said. “This program gives students a chance to learn by doing — real-world leadership experience. They learn how to be part of something that’s bigger than themselves and has a deep impact on our community through meeting community needs. I think when we’re able to listen to others and learn from each other, to meet the needs of each other and our neighbors, that’s when we really understand the true meaning of leadership.”
Those hands-on leadership opportunities pay off when the students leave TROY.
“Leadership can be studied here, but it’s developed through application and practice, and there is a host of activities for students to do that,” said Dr. Jonathan Cellon, Associate Dean of First-Year Studies. “In the John W. Schmidt Center for Student Success, we have over 35 student employees learning skills of professionalism, problem solving, project management, customer service, conflict resolution and other areas that will be valuable leadership skills for them as they go forward.”
Career Services Coordinator Lauren Cole actively encourages students to seek leadership opportunities both on and off campus.
“Leadership is a necessity for your resume, but not just as a line on a piece of paper, but a list of transferable skills,” Cole said. “I encourage students to take leadership positions with organizations not just on campus, but in the community, and begin to network and make contacts in the community at large. TROY often talks about servant leadership, and that is vital because it’s about the whole. Leadership is about serving alongside other people.”
One of the brightest examples of TROY’s commitment to leadership development is current SGA President Nicole Jayjohn.
Jayjohn started her Trojan tenure on Freshman Forum, where she received mentorship and encouragement from upper classmen, faculty and staff to begin her leadership journey.
“My Freshman Forum director encouraged me to go for her position, and from there I started thinking I was able to do these things, to be a leader,” Jayjohn said. “It’s just the community and people that are at TROY, constant encouragers who build you up, whether it’s faculty or staff or Dr. Hawkins himself. They constantly built me up and encouraged me to try things I wouldn’t have tried without that encouragement. It’s a support system that helped me get to where I am. It’s made me want to be that encourager for the new students. I’ve gotten so much from TROY that I want to pass onto those younger than me.”
TROY continues to seek out new ways to foster those efforts, evidenced by the success of both Leadership 101 and the Global Leadership Ph.D. program.
“Moving forward, we will be exploring ways to grow and enhance our Institute for Leadership Development, especially in light of our recent successes,” Dr. Palmer said. “The future is bright for leadership education at TROY.”