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President’s Leadership Institute 2018-19 class announced

June 12, 2018

Presidents Leadership Institute LogoBy Jackie Todd, University Relations

Tia Dumas and Rick Petillo have a few things in common. They joined the university roughly around the same time, they are interested in expanding their knowledge of Clemson and the higher education space, and they want to enhance their leadership skills.

They will get to do exactly that as members of the President’s Leadership Institute (PLI). The 10-month program exposes Clemson’s faculty and staff to all aspects of the university’s operations, presents opportunities to interact with senior leaders and allows them to participate in activities designed to build leadership skills, broaden their perspectives, create invaluable networks and prepare them to pursue additional roles at Clemson.

The 2018-19 cohort includes:

  • Carla Bennett, director of academic finance, Office of Academic Affairs
  • Crystal Bennett, content integration specialist, Marketing and Creative Services, University Relations
  • Meg Bishop, program coordinator II, College of Business
  • Brian Callahan, Ph.D., associate director for field operations, Cooperative Extension
  • Bobby Clark, director of CCIT procurement, CCIT
  • Kelly Cloyd, senior director of development, Office of Development
  • Cynthia Deaton, Ph.D., associate professor – teaching and learning, College of Education
  • John DesJardins, Ph.D., associate professor – bioengineering, director of bioengineering abroad programs, College of Engineering, Computing and Applied Sciences
  • Tia Dumas, Ph.D., assistant dean, Graduate School
  • Talitha Ellington, executive assistant and partnership coordinator, CU-ICAR Partnership Office
  • Kristin Foster, centers and institute specialist, Office of Sponsored Programs
  • Lisa Gagnon, senior HR director, Office of Human Resources
  • Carlos Garcia, Ph.D., professor – chemistry, College of Science
  • Erin Goss, Ph.D., associate professor – British literature, College of Architecture, Arts and Humanities
  • Daniel Harding, associate professor, director of graduate architecture programs, director, community research and design center, School of Architecture
  • Kathy Hobgood, assistant vice president for student affairs, executive director of university housing and dining, Student Affairs
  • Natalie Honnen, associate athletic director, student-athlete services and performance, Athletic Department
  • Jermaine Johnson, Ph.D., assistant general counsel, Office of General Counsel
  • Rick Petillo, director of debt and capital financing, Finance and Operations
  • Jennifer Siemens, Ph.D., associate professor – marketing, College of Business
  • Joseph Thames, instructor and academic advisor, College of Science
  • Kristine Vernon, Ph.D., associate professor – 4-H youth development program team, Animal and Veterinary Sciences Department, College of Agriculture, Forestry and Life Sciences
  • Narendra Vyavahare, Ph.D., professor – bioengineering, Hunter Endowed Chair, College of Engineering, Computing and Applied Sciences
  • John Whitcomb, Ph.D., professor, director, undergraduate programs in nursing, College of Behavioral, Social and Health Sciences
  • Sarah Winslow, Ph.D., professor, director of National Scholars Program, College of Behavioral, Social and Health Sciences

This is the third class selected for the program, which was introduced in 2016. President Jim Clements is as excited about this class as he was about the others.

“I’ve watched participants share, learn and grow together as a result of the PLI experience,” he said. “The new class includes exceptional faculty and staff and I’m eager to see them interact with each other and with other leaders at the university and in the community to develop both professionally and personally.”

Both Dumas and Petillo are equally excited – for similar reasons.

“I hope to meet and engage members of the Clemson Family and Clemson community,” explained Dumas. “I want to learn from my teammates and contribute to a broader understanding of the skills needed for executive-level leadership.”

“I’m excited about the opportunity to meet other members of the Clemson community with whom I may not otherwise interact,” said Petillo. “Seeing the University from other people’s perspectives will help broaden my experience.”

Nominated by vice presidents and deans, class participants are at various stages in their careers, from entry-level to mid-level employees. During the 10-month program, the class will learn about Clemson, higher education, business and government and receive education and training to hone and develop skills needed for leadership success.

Kyra Lobbins, director, President’s Leadership and Strategic Initiatives has run the program since its inception. Lobbins said that many faculty and staff who completed the PLI have advanced in their careers.

“The PLI is an opportunity for participants to learn, create lasting relationships and to contribute to the greater good,” she said. “For Clemson, it’s an investment in the university’s future.”

The program begins in August and will run through May 2019.



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