Harwood Leadership Seminar begins second year at F&M

By Itihaas Singh, Staff Writer

The Harwood Leadership Seminar, run through the Office of Student and Post-Graduate Development (OSPGD), has now entered its second year. The brainchild of Brett Harwood ’71, college trustee, and Kent Trachte, former dean of the College, the program offers a series of non-credit workshops that foster leadership abilities in members of the
sophomore class.

The program grew out of Harwood’s idea that athletes approach leadership and teamwork differently than non-athletes. From that starting point, Harwood and Trachte worked together beginning in March 2012 and eventually developed a  workshop series that embodies those principles and helps participating students to develop their own unique leadership styles.

The result of Harwood and Trachte’s work became the Harwood Leadership Seminar, which launched in Fall 2012 with 24 students, composed of 12 athletes and 12
non-athletes.

Currently, the program is only offered to members of F&M’s sophomore class and there are no plans to offer the program to other class years.

“The reason for sophomores is that it’s a very pivotal year for many people, for many reasons,” said Beth Throne ’95, associate vice president for student and post-graduate development. “It’s the time where students are unencumbered by a major, where they’re still exploring F&M and what makes sense for them. So we thought it may be a great way to tie together a class that sometimes does suffer from what is the
stereotype slump.

“The second reason is we realized that we didn’t have much of a focus on sophomore programs, and we decided to fix that by offering [the Harwood Leadership Seminar],” Throne continued.

The selection process invites members of the incoming sophomore class to submit an application consisting of brief essay questions describing their hopes for participation in the program, as well as questions about their leadership role models and their opinions on leadership. From those paper applications, several students are chosen to participate in a group interview on campus. After the interviews, the cohort of students is selected to
participate in the
program.

For the 24 spaces available in this year’s Harwood Leadership Seminar, 114 students submitted applications, and approximately 68 were brought in for interviews. Throne sees this as proof of the demand for leadership training opportunities among members of F&M’s student body.

The seminars that compose the program are centered around simulations, reflection exercises, hands-on activities, and intellectual, academic workshop case studies that are designed to teach
leadership to participants.

One of the highlights of the program is a trip

to the Battlefield of Gettysburg entitled, “In the Footsteps of Leaders.” During the two-day trip, students walk the battlefield and hear the stories of how people in leadership positions responded to difficult situations in an effort to show the seminar participants the importance of leadership.

The seminar, which consists of 10 workshops and lasts for the entirety of sophomore year, ends with a celebratory dinner attended by Brett Harwood and alumni of the program, during which graduates of the program receive certificates and padfolios to commemorate their
achievement.

Mark Harmon-Vaught ’15, an alumni of the inaugural Harwood Leadership Seminar, commented on the importance of the program for his leadership skills and for his sophomore year.

“The Harwood Leadership Seminar proved to be a very meaningful part of my sophomore experience for three reasons: I was able to hone my own leadership skills, gain a newfound appreciation of the concept of leadership within athletics, and grow in connectedness to a group of outstanding members of my class,” he said. “Ultimately, the Harwood Seminar was a highly rewarding opportunity for me, and I feel very fortunate to have been able to participate.”

This year the program will go on and teach students about their leadership skills and help them grow as leaders. In addition to developing these skills, there are a number of points that students will — hopefully — take away from the program.

“First, there is no one leadership model,” Throne said. “Everyone’s leadership styles, their values, how they manage up, down, and over, differs and that there is no one effective
model.

“The second thing we’re hoping that students take out of it is a plan for how they want to develop themselves as leaders,” she continued. “And a plan being some type of path with goals and tangible deadlines by which they hope to develop competencies and experiences and will help them put in practice what they learn in the Seminar.”

Junior Itihaas Singh is a staff writer. His email is isingh@fandm.edu.

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