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New Leadership Minor Has Students Turning Heads

Published: April 07, 2010

Ashley “C.K.” Kearney ’12 is involved in several leadership-building organizations at UT.

From SEMS (Sports and Entertainment Management Society) and Extreme E.L.I.T.E (Educating Leaders in Today’s Environment) to working as a resident assistant and Spartan Mentor, Kearney has taken every opportunity to refine her leadership skills.

So when the opportunity to enroll in a new leadership studies minor came along, Kearney leaped at the chance.

“I was always looking for something different anyway,” said Kearney, who is majoring in sport management. She wants to study entertainment law and become a sports agent. “It fits more perfectly than just a business management minor for what I want to do.”

Joe Sclafani, professor of psychology and co-chair of the Leadership Resource Team, said the new minor gives official academic credentials to leadership development, giving students access to theory-based research and the ability to the ability to apply what they’ve learned in their extracurricular activities to their academic pursuits.

“They will be getting grounding in what leadership means and can mean,” Sclafani said. “Just because you have good leadership skills doesn’t mean you’re in charge all the time. This is a good way to open the door to other facets of what leadership encompasses.”

The minor in leadership studies is an 18-20 credit hour program for students seeking cross-disciplinary areas of study in developing leadership skills. The new minor, which will be housed in the TECO Center for Leadership, will be available to students in Fall 2010 and will be piloted by a cohort of 25 to 28 freshmen and sophomores.

Casey Foster ’13 wanted to be in the first cohort as a way to meet her goals. The public health major wants to become a health educator either in a school or community-based setting and would also like to become a coach, inspiring younger generations to succeed on and off the field.

“Leadership is a high priority of mine, so seeing the great potential of this program made me eager to learn more and apply,” said Foster, who is involved in InterVarsity Christian Fellowship, President's Leadership Fellows, UT STAND and Big Brothers Big Sisters.

“Even though I am already receiving leadership training and development through a number of other clubs and organizations at UT, I did not hesitate to make it a part of my academic life as well,” Foster said.

The leadership minor will include:

  • Two core leadership theory courses. The first will be an introduction to leadership theory; the second common course will be a capstone in the senior year.
  • A minimum of 18 credit hours in leadership studies designated courses.
  • Ninety-plus hours of approved experiential activities and events. Degree candidates will participate in co-curricular experiences including intensive service activities such as alternative breaks, mentoring experiences (as both a mentee and mentor), community service activities, leadership roles in student organizations and internships with a leadership focus.
  • Using the UT co-curricular transcript services as a way to track experiences.

“It’s not an easy minor,” said Sclafani, whose committee has been working on the concept for the last five to six years. “But depending on what you want to do with your life, this is a great credential to have.”

For more information, contact Sclafani at or (813) 257-3329, or Kim Northup, associate director of the Office of Student Leadership and Engagement, at Applications are available online and are due by April 15 for a place in the Fall 2010 cohort.

Jamie Pilarczyk, Web Writer
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