Though Bethany students have plenty of opportunities to engage in leadership roles on campus, the Taylor Leadership Institute is making those opportunities all the more hands-on.
The Taylor Leadership Institute exists to develop leadership skills for students, build community awareness, and prepare students for future leadership positions. Former CEO Glen Taylor, of Taylor Corporation, took an interest in Bethany and created an endowment. The group is nominated-based, with faculty and staff identifying students from a variety of majors and disciplines.
Assistant Professor of Business Administration Erika Gunderson serves as Bethany’s Taylor Leadership Institute Chair, along with teaching Business Administration classes. She coordinates the group’s monthly meetings, plans events, and identifies leaders who might be valuable resources for students. As opposed to the classroom setting, Gunderson enjoys taking a backseat role for Bethany’s Taylor Leadership chapter.
“You’re going to hear far more from me in the classroom. In the Taylor Leadership Institute, I want to facilitate an environment where students can learn, but I’m going to put that learning and ownership on the students.”
This past Fall semester, students partnered with the National Society for Leadership and Success, a nationally recognized Honor Society in leadership and development. This allowed them access to an online curriculum of national speakers from a variety of areas–celebrities, writers, business owners–all of whom had stories surrounding their failures and successes.
One highlight for junior Education major Cianna Hoppe has been learning with students from other disciplines.
“There are leaders in every major, sport, and job,” said Hoppe. “Being a part of the Taylor Leadership Institute has allowed me to broaden my perspective on what those leadership roles might look like.”
Students also met in small accountability groups to share goals, progress, and achievements. Hoppe has enjoyed hearing about what success looks like to her fellow classmates.
“Everyone has something they want to achieve. One person wanted to work at getting an internship at Google, and another one wanted to read a chapter of a book a day,” said Hoppe.
In the 2022 Spring semester, Gunderson plans on facilitating a more hands-on approach for students, allowing them opportunities to serve their classmates and community. Students will brainstorm, plan, and put on a community service project of their choosing.
“Our goal is that we can take what we’ve learned in the fall semester and then practice what we have learned this upcoming spring semester. I wanted it to be something that the students came up with themselves, to have them think about how they could strengthen their leadership skills and serve the community,” said Gunderson.
Gunderson is also scheduling in-person speakers so that students can interact with local leaders and ask questions about their experiences.
“I want them [students] to think about how these people became the leaders that they are today,” said Gunderson.
Ultimately, seeing students broaden their skillset, ask thoughtful questions, and take initiative is what makes running Bethany’s Taylor Leadership Institute rewarding for Gunderson.
“Students here at Bethany are our future leaders.”