Leadership program increases courses, enrollment

The Community Leadership and Public Service (CLPS) certificate program – coordinated by the Carrie Chapman Catt Center for Women and Politics – experienced phenomenal growth in 2013.

The interdisciplinary, 21-credit-hour program that is open to all undergraduate students at Iowa State has been offered since the fall 2008 semester. Prior to 2013, between three and seven students enrolled in the certificate program each semester. In the spring 2013 semester, 35 students enrolled. In the fall 2013 semester, 46 students enrolled, bringing the total number of students currently pursuing the leadership certificate to 84.

Table of new certificate enrollments

During the fall 2013 semester, a record 210 students enrolled in the seven courses taught by Catt Center scholars-in-residence Valerie Hennings and Clint Stephens, center graduate assistants Cameron Beatty and Aja Holmes, and College of Liberal Arts and Sciences Dean Beate Schmittmann.

“Our work in publicizing the leadership certificate program and expanding our course offerings has really paid off through increased enrollment in the key leadership classes this past year,” said Stephens, who coordinates the CLPS program.

Student interns Michelle Hunter and Morgan Foldes worked with Stephens on publicity during the spring and fall semesters by visiting classes, student organizations and campus meetings to promote the program and answer questions from students, faculty and staff. Hunter graduated with a leadership certificate in May 2013 and Foldes is currently enrolled in the program.

“I have really enjoyed talking with students about the program,” said Foldes, a senior in marketing from Johnston, Iowa. “When students see the value that developing their leadership skills provides both them and the Iowa State community, it’s a short journey to enrolling them in the certificate.”

In addition to the increase in the total number of students enrolled in the certificate program, participation across the university also increased in 2013, with students from all six colleges with undergraduates now enrolled.

“The leadership certificate program has become increasingly important to student leadership development across the campus, not just in the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences,” said Dianne Bystrom, Catt Center director. “The response from faculty, who continue to propose courses to add to the program’s electives, and from students, who are enrolling in record numbers, has been strong.”

Two new experimental leadership courses developed by Stephens debuted in the fall 2013 semester. CLPS 122x, “Leading with Purpose,” is a one-credit-hour course designed to provide emerging student leaders with basic leadership skills covering strengths identification, goal achievement and mission statement development. CLPS 270x, “Campus Leadership Development,” is a two-credit-hour course that provides emerging student leaders with an understanding of effective leadership practices and information on leadership opportunities on campus where they can apply what they learn.

“It was a pleasure not only teaching the CLPS 270x class last fall, but I also felt so rewarded being able to witness the growth of the students throughout the semester,” Beatty said. “I really believe that the class assisted in the beginnings of students understanding their style of leadership and to their transition to college and success during their first semester.”

Along with the new courses, the leadership program has added several measures of student learning. Each of the key leadership courses taught by Catt Center staff had pre- and post-assessment surveys distributed to every student.

The first-year student courses were assessed using Laurie Shreiner’s “thriving quotient,” which is closely linked to predicting student success in college and beyond. Students in the upper-class, diversity-focused courses completed the multicultural experiences questionnaire, which measures their understanding of diversity issues. The results of these assessments will demonstrate the effects of these leadership courses on students and will provide guidance for further improvements to the curriculum.

“2013 was a great year for the growth and development of the leadership program,” Stephens said. “I’m excited to see what 2014 brings.”