Service and Leadership: "The Citadel Experience"
Shaping principled leaders through "The Citadel Experience"
|Today we begin an occasional story series highlighting the unique educational environment at The Citadel. "Service and Leadership" will profile people and events that exemplify "The Citadel Experience," its leadership laboratory and the college's mission of achieving excellence in the education of principled leaders. Today: How do we teach leadership at The Citadel.|
For the past several years, the Krause Initiative has helped strengthen The Citadel’s programs and efforts with a mission to prepare graduates to become principled leaders.
Established in the fall of 2003, by a generous gift from Bill (’63) and Gay Krause, the initiative has been directed by Lt. Col. Jeff Weart, a retired Army officer with extensive background in leader development. Over this time, the initiative has been successful in establishing and reshaping a number of activities, training processes, and integration efforts across the campus to support the leader development and ethical growth of the Corps.
To get a better picture of how the Krause Initiative impacts The Citadel, we caught up with Weart:
Q: You have been here at The Citadel for several years, what have you been able to accomplish in the initiative during this time?
I believe I have been able to help the college begin to reframe the way it understands the process of developing leaders and to help “connect the dots” of different programs and activities that support this new understanding. When I started working here, I found a lot of efforts and activities that were intended to promote leader development within the Corps. Yet many of these were not well designed and lacked integration with other the educational programs. These different efforts were competing for cadet time and attention and needed to be more effective. Through the Krause Initiative, we have been able to better connect these programs and integrate them into the Corps life and the academic year. Some examples of our efforts are:
Support to the cadet Honor Committee: this is a multi-component program focused on promoting and maintaining the developmental impact of the Honor System.
- Emerging Corps Leaders Seminar: annual training for rising Corps leaders.
- Website, updated with key events, highlights student leadership opportunities.
- Opportunities for leadership development, including cadets and graduate students (seminars, conferences, etc.
Q: A Citadel education has always been described as unique and referred to as being a “leadership laboratory.” Do these descriptors still hold true with the efforts of the Krause Initiative?
In reality, we have expanded these two distinctions while maintaining their original meaning. When we talk about students attending The Citadel, we refer to it as "The Citadel Experience." Because it is more than just an education - it is a full immersion – a life-changing journey - a process that everyone must go through in order to graduate from The Citadel. It entails being part of a cadet company, learning to follow and lead others, and completing the Citadel’s academic and physical requirements, all while living within this disciplined and ethical environment. The combinations of these factors cause our cadets to grow and experience more than just the average college life.
Our cadets quickly find that their experience here is connected to their overall leadership development. The notion that The Citadel is a “leadership laboratory” still remains true, but I prefer to expand on this analogy. For being a member of the Corps at The Citadel is more like being a member of a high quality athletic team that is on a “practice field for leader development.” To get the most out of "The Citadel Experience," an individual cadet needs to be engaged – not be a benchwarmer just going through the motions of each day. Cadets need to look for the opportunities and chances to practice – take on leadership roles and responsibilities each year – to get more “leadership repetitions on the playing field.”
Extending that analogy, it is easy to see that the college’s faculty, administrative staff, and even the rest of The Citadel family play a critical role in orchestrating and supporting this “playing field for leadership development.” For everybody has a part to help challenge, support, and “coach” our cadets to help them grow into principled leaders. I believe this practice field image better supports what actually occurs within "The Citadel Experience" and better relates our current and future efforts.
Q: So what are the key efforts this year?
From the Krause Initiative perspective, the key issues for the year center on improving the Values and Respect Program along with implementing a new leadership development model established in the spring of 2007. These are large projects that encompass a number of related college-level actions and adjustments to the training programs. Both are inextricably linked but let me address them separately.
We kicked off the Values and Respect program in 2006 as a way to better integrate essential non-curricular based instruction (like honor education, substance abuse awareness, sexual harassment, and leadership development) and put a greater emphasis on our institutional values. This effort was sorely needed to better synchronize our efforts in these areas and provide higher quality instruction. We have continued to work to improve the scheduling and instructional content of all of these subjects with a greater emphasis on leadership development. To assist in the implementation of the Values and Respect program, we have formed company leadership development teams for each cadet company. These consist of the company commander, the company tactical officer, and various faculty and staff personnel aligned with each unit. These teams will assist in some of the Values and Respect instruction, provide help in preparing selected cadet instructors, support the chain of command as necessary, and provide additional feedback to the unit. Though this is a new effort, we have had wonderful interest and response from across the college and are optimistic that this effort will be useful.
The model outlines specific leadership roles and expectations that every cadet must complete. It also helps link key concepts of our Core Values with the notions of pride and tradition that shape this developmental journey. Putting this model into place has required us to reshape some of the leadership training and activities that our cadets experience.
Q: What does the future hold for the Krause Initiative.
Our success so far clearly signals greater opportunity for the future. Eventually, the college wants the initiative to grow into a full-fledged center for leadership and ethics. Many colleges and universities have these types of organizations to provide specific programs and instruction. Creating a center at The Citadel is a natural extension of our current efforts and will help provide greater resources and emphasis on our unique institution. Though we have laid the groundwork for a center, more time and financial resources are required to actually put this into place.
In the meantime, the Krause Initiative will promote The Citadel as an exemplar for peer institutions and organizations specializing in ethics and leadership. The initiative will continue to serve as a resource for institutional and regional outreach activities while helping to develop principled leaders on campus.
For more information on the Krause Initiative click here.
More news in the "Service and Leadership" series