November 2013 Cover
Volume 81 | Issue 6
November 2013

I-LEAD® Reaches a Record Number of Students

A record 136 students gathered at the University of La Verne, July 28–Aug. 2, for ACUI’s premier student program—the Institute of Leadership Education and Development (I-LEAD®). With at least two students from every ACUI region in attendance, I-LEAD® 2013 also marks the third year that all 15 regions were represented since it was part of the ACUI annual conference. This shows the importance and dedication that the regions provide this program.ILEAD

Since becoming a stand-alone institute in 1999, I-LEAD® has affected more than 1,200 student participants and 240 facilitation team members. In its history, the program has grown from a four-day to a six-day institute, has held two sessions in a year several times, and has been hosted at six member schools.

After the successful introduction of a new program delivery model in 2011, with the coordination of two concurrent sessions of the same program during the same dates and in the same location, ACUI decided to continue this model in 2013. The entire group spent six days together in the Abraham Campus Center and a residence hall on campus, participating in a variety of full group, large group (76 and 60 students each), and small group (15 students each) activities as well as reflection times.

According to the student evaluation responses, the activities that contributed most to the overall learning experience included those related to assumptions, values, vision, teambuilding, and challenging the process. Informal reflection with peers and facilitators were also rated as high contributors to the experience, confirming the value of the opportunities for self-directed learning.

Student participants also self-assessed how well learning outcomes were achieved. The highest rated learning outcomes of the program (on a 4-point scale) were:

  • I can act and lead with purpose and integrity, developing a personal set of ethics, morals, and values (3.95)
  • I recognize that I am part of something larger than my individual group/campus (3.88)
  • I have identified within myself the skills for becoming a leader who can design and build a process for change (3.88)
  • I recognize my personal values and how my values relate to the values of my organization (3.86)
  • I have explored my potential as a leader, reflecting on the concept that leadership is a process not a position (3.85)
  • I am self-aware as an individual, as a leader, and as a group member (3.85)
  • I can apply leadership theories and techniques, enabling me to model desired behaviors and teach through example (3.81)

For many students, the institute resulted in a life-changing experience.

“I could not have asked for a better group of people to be surrounded by for 16 hours a day. We all were able to learn from each other and take away different things to apply to ourselves and our stories,” said Lauren Brosius, Philadelphia University. “After leaving I-LEAD®, I felt so empowered and so confident. It was truly an amazing feeling.”

Another student discussed the impact of I-LEAD®: “The facilitators and students at I-LEAD® have the power to change this world, and the best part about that is that they want to, they strive to—and that is the reason why I admire every single soul I met,” said Jessica James, University of North Carolina–Charlotte. “To be told that I am admired, honest, true to myself, and one-of-a-kind are words that I value because I know the people meant them. There is nothing more glorifying than that.”

Essential to the success of the program were the professional and student volunteers, host support, and ACUI Central Office staff members. Serving as lead facilitators for the sessions this year were I-LEAD® Co-Program Team Leaders Missy Burgess, University of Wisconsin–Oshkosh, and Daniel Gray, University of Houston; Brian Magee, ACUI; and Jackie Aliotta, University of Maryland–Baltimore County. Additionally, there were 18 small group facilitators, two undergraduate student interns, one graduate student intern, a host team from the University of La Verne led by Chip West, Jim Brooks, Veronica Ashcroft, and logistics support from Michelle Smith, ACUI.

Through their roles in small group discussions and activities, the facilitation team also serves as a professional development opportunity with learning outcomes of its own. On their evaluation, small group facilitators reported developing the most in the skill set areas of Motivation, Self-Knowledge, Group Facilitation, Empowerment, Instruction and Training, Interpersonal Communication Skills, and Role Modeling.

Small group facilitator Kody Rother, Roanoke College, shared his perspective: “The I-LEAD® experience is theory to practice, challenge and support, and student development. It epitomizes the core foundations that make everything about student affairs fantastic. It embodies every passion that drove me into this field. It is a catalyst for positive change. It was quite possibly one of the most career-affirming experiences in which I have participated.”

Thanks to technology, the relationships established during the week at I-LEAD® have been sustained. Through a Facebook group, students and facilitation team members continue to share successes on campus, ask for ideas from each other, pass on inspirational quotes, and post references to the memories shared at the program.