Developing leaders: Twenty-five graduate from President’s Leadership Institute

May 8, 2018

By Jackie Todd, University Relations

Jim Clements has learned many leadership lessons throughout his career. Those lessons strengthened a rock-solid foundation provided by his greatest teacher – his mother.

Clements frequently honors Geraldine Grace Clements by sharing her wisdom as he speaks about leadership. And he did so Thursday as he addressed 25 faculty and staff members who completed the President’s Leadership Institute (PLI), the second class to achieve this distinction since the program began in 2016.

“My mother told me to make a difference,” said Clements. “She didn’t say, try to make a difference. She said, make a difference.”

That’s exactly what the PLI does. The 10-month initiative exposes Clemson’s faculty and staff to all aspects of the university’s operations. It presents opportunities to interact with senior leaders, participate in activities designed to build leadership skills, broaden their perspectives and create invaluable networks. It prepares them to pursue leadership roles and it positions participants to make a difference as they lead.

Featuring monthly themes such as integrity, issues management, diversity, culture, communications, servant leadership and more, participants heard from university leaders and industry experts who shared insight about challenges, opportunities and solutions.

The class visited facilities on Clemson’s main campus and they got a first-hand look at innovative programs, research and outreach going on in Clemson’s facilities in Charleston, Greenville, Anderson and Columbia.

“It was so great to galvanize the whole body from food science to engineering, from Extension to the various campuses to the government relations function,” said class participant Oliver Myers, who is an associate professor in Mechanical Engineering. “I enjoyed seeing how the whole picture works together–the 360 view of the Clemson enterprise.

Department of Chemistry professor Julia Brumaghim also enjoyed seeing the university from a fuller perspective.

“It was nice to get above the departmental level and see that there are common issues and common solutions for a lot of things across the university,” she said. “It was nice to see the scope of the university from a broad umbrella.”

Participants indicated that the lessons they learned in the PLI are allowing them to enhance their approach to their own role and to their departments.

“The two that I use the most with my staff are integrity and conflict resolution,” said Midlands District Extension Director Deon S. Legette. “My plan is to use what I have learned in PLI to help develop a leadership program for current and future Extension leaders.”

“One of the most important things we learned is how to lead change,” said Brumaghim. “There are a lot of changes I’d like to see to make the university and my experience at the university better. To be able to use some of those tools that people know are effective will really help effect that change.”

The PLI not only inspires change – it results in energized leaders.

“I know it’s successful because I see the impact in people’s eyes,” said Vice President and Chief of Staff Max Allen. I see people coming away excited. I see people really thrilled and hungry for more.”

Kyra Lobbins, director, President’s Leadership and Strategic Initiatives has run the program since its inception. Lobbins said that 70 percent of last year’s class participants have already advanced in their careers. The PLI, she said, is an opportunity for participants to learn, create lasting relationships and to contribute to the greater good. For Clemson, said Lobbins, it’s an investment in the university’s future.

“When you think about investing in the future, investing in the people who are driving that mission is first and foremost.”


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