Credit: Nick Romanenko
Marcia Mercedes, left, is a Livingston
College senior who is completing the
minor in organizational leadership.
Assistant Dean Michelle Jefferson,
right, supervises the four-year program.
Marcia Mercedes signed up for her first class in organizational leadership at Livingston College upon the recommendation of her roommate. She went on to take the 21-credit academic minor – the only leadership minor of its kind in New Jersey – and found it helped her step into prominent roles in student groups.
“In the first two years, I was able to achieve leadership positions in several groups on campus because I understood my leadership style and knew how to work with different people toward a common goal,” said Mercedes, who graduates in May and aspires to a career as a translator.
Leadership learning covers a lot of territory at Rutgers. From union leadership to women’s global leadership, students can choose from courses, seminars and programs, some with a very specific focus. At Livingston College, the academic minor is geared to a range of disciplines and appeals to students in diverse career paths. Required courses can be taken over four years in philosophy, politics, women’s issues, urban and community affairs, and psychology.
“This gives students a lot of confidence to become members of teams and managers of organizational change,” said Livingston Dean Arnold Hyndman, who began the program three years ago and teaches two seminars. The college has raised more than half of a proposed $1 million scholarship fund to support students in leadership studies.
“Students come to the program with different goals,” said Michelle Jefferson, assistant dean at Livingston who supervises the program and also teaches leadership courses. “I’ve seen people majoring in everything from political science to economics to genetics.”
A total of 32 students are enrolled in the minor; introductory courses always have waiting lists. Core courses help participants create an ethical vision and explore how change occurs in organizations. Students are encouraged to join campus or community groups to put their skills to work and to interview alumni who are executives with area companies.
Students give the program high marks. Craig Seidenschwarz, a Livingston graduate who plans to pursue a career in film, took the minor to tune up his skills. Along the way, he joined several campus groups, worked in residence life at Livingston, and geared up for a freelance film career. “I was really surprised to find how much the classes helped me with my work in other courses. I was better able to focus and make decisions in other aspects of my life,” he said.
Jefferson said she’s seen the changes in students as they move through the program. “Once in a while I’ll get a student who is very introverted and I can see the change, right from the first semester,” she said.
Leading the Way at Rutgers:
A sampler of leadership initiatives
From academic courses to seminars, Rutgers offers a wide range of courses and programs designed to hone leadership skills:
• Douglass College offers the LEADing Edge, which brings together curricular and co-curricular opportunities relating to leadership, including classes, community involvement and leadership programs for women. Participants can receive a certificate and a leadership transcript detailing co-curricular activities: www.douglass.rutgers.edu/academics/programs/leadership.asp
• The Center for Management Development offers continuous education classes, workshops and certificate programs in leadership for managers, supervisors and executives in businesses, nonprofit organizations or the public sector: www.cmd.rutgers.edu
• The Student Leadership Development Institute, sponsored by the department of communication/SCILS and the Center for Organizational Development and Leadership, offers a 15-credit certificate program open to all students in New Brunswick/Piscataway, as well as public lectures and other events: www.sldi.rutgers.edu
• The Institute for Women’s Leadership is a consortium of teaching, research and service units at Rutgers dedicated to examining leadership issues and advancing women’s leadership in all areas of public life: iwl.rutgers.edu
• Rutgers College offers several leadership initiatives, including a diversity retreat, leadership programs, mentoring opportunities, and seminars for new and transfer students. A separate leadership program pairs juniors with mentors who are successful college graduates. There is also a caucus geared to the interests of the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgendered communities: rutgerscollegeprograms.rutgers.edu
• The Union Leadership Academy, a project of Rutgers’ School of Management and Labor Relations, offers continuous education initiatives geared to representatives of organized labor: www.rulabor.rutgers.edu
• The Center for Strategic Urban Community Leadership, Rutgers-Camden, helps revitalize the Camden community. The center is recognized as a model program for revitalizing and advancing urban communities: www.camden.rutgers.edu/Camden/CFSUCL/
• Rutgers Continuous Education and Outreach coordinates several leadership seminars and programs geared to entrepreneurs, education professionals, managers and information technology professionals: ce1766.rutgers.edu
• The William G. Rohrer Center for Management and Entrepreneurship at Rutgers-Camden offers leadership coaching for executives across the state and the region: