It is the mission of Student Life and Development to implement out-of-classroom programs that educate students about ethical leadership, cultural awareness and positive social change.
Collectively defined as The Leadership Continuum, SLD’s three signature programs achieve this mission by providing students with a comprehensive leadership development curriculum and skills to affect change in the community and their own lives. Coordinated by SLD staff, with collaboration from faculty, staff and community partners, the leadership programs are utilized by a significant percentage of the student population. Included in the Leadership Continuum are the T3 Leadership Institute, the Teamwork Retreat and the Swanson Leadership Resource Center’s Leadership Academy.
Teambuilding exercise at the T3 Leadership Institute
There are 325 active student organizations recognized by CSULB. This translates to 325 executive boards, or 975 officers, who require basic skills to lead their membership, navigate university policies and obtain program planning assistance to achieve organizational goals. To deliver these requisite skills, SLD coordinates an annual conference, T3: Timeout for Teambuilding and Training. Designed as a professional conference, T3 components include a keynote speaker, leadership workshops, mandatory certifications for student organization officers and social networking opportunities. As a testament to its success, T3 registration has grown by 350 percent from its inception three years ago.
Teamwork activity near the Walter Pyramid
Following T3, staff come together to plan the annual Teamwork Leadership Retreat, set to celebrate its 25th anniversary in 2007. A three-day retreat in the San Bernardino Mountains, Teamwork is an intensive weekend that builds community among student leaders and emphasizes a specific leadership topic. The 2006 program included a diverse curriculum designed to create cultural awareness and develop cross-cultural communication skills. To generate a fun and evocative experience where students perpetuate experiential learning, staff identified learning outcomes that were met through workshops, activities and topic-related discussions. The 2006 retreat experienced a record attendance of 115 students and 18 faculty and staff, including 25 international students.
SLD’s Leadership Continuum culminates with the Swanson LRC’s popular Leadership Academy. An award-winning, certificate-based program recognized by the National Association of Student Personnel Administrators, the Swanson LRC’s Leadership Academy requires students to complete a series of workshops based on Alexander Astin’s Social Change Model and The Seven C’s of Leadership. Free of charge, the Swanson LRC Leadership Academy requires the completion of two service-learning projects based on new theoretical understandings. Students who graduate from the academy also receive a commencement medallion, a guaranteed letter of recommendation from the director of Student Life and Development and recognition at the annual Celebration of Leadership. Most importantly, students leave with the ability to apply leadership skills to their own lives.
A rich campus life results in increased student satisfaction and SLD’s research indicates that student leadership increases academic achievement. An SLD assessment conducted in spring 2006 shows the average GPA of student organization leaders is 3.13, compared to 2.92 for non-involved students.
For SLD, meeting the practical needs of a diverse student population and meeting the decree of its mission are equally important. SLD continues to seek new methods of delivering quality extracurricular programs. Supporting the 9,850 students currently participating in campus involvement programs is its ongoing challenge now and in the years to come.