Chancellor's Friday Letters

Emerging Leaders

Emerging Leaders

February 3, 2012

Dear Friends,

Yesterday I visited with about 130 students at a program on campus entitled “Emerging Leaders,” now in its third year. These students were selected by various campus groups because they have leadership written all over them but not – as yet – many opportunities to express it.

I share with you in today’s Letter some of the thoughts I shared with them.

I was pleased to see this group termed “emerging” leaders.  That adjective is important for a lifetime, because to be a leader, one must always be emerging.  When that is no longer the case, one has stopped growing, improving, and it is time to step aside and get out of the way.

Leadership is living the promise and fulfilling a growing potential – it is about grasping opportunities one seeks, or realizing when opportunities come along unexpectedly.  It’s about making a positive difference for oneself, one’s family, community, country, and often beyond.

I then described a few examples of leadership by UCR students.

The first example was UCR’s senior psychology major Serkadis Krohm, the orphaned student from Ethiopia who – despite many tragic life experiences – is now excelling academically and volunteering with the Child Leader Project.  I wrote about Serkadis in my Friday Letter of October 7, 2011.

A second example of leadership was shown by Alpha Pi Sigma sorority, which this past fall teamed up with Court Appointed Special Advocates of Riverside County to collect teddy bears for kids in the foster care system.  Every Wednesday throughout the month of November, sorority members were near the Bell Tower collecting bears of all shapes and sizes – some 300 in number.  These women made a big difference by assisting the courts and representing the best interests of abused and neglected children.

A third example of leadership at UCR is found in African Student Programs (ASP), which is celebrating its 40th anniversary this year (http://ucrtoday.ucr.edu/2483 ).  Born from the historic struggles against oppression in all forms, ASP was created in 1972 to sustain a socially just and inclusive campus community. ASP is a leadership training effort, as it recognizes the connection between individual academic success, social responsibility and community success.

ASP’s leadership extends to the entire community.  For example, the campus celebration of Black History Month is now underway, and offers events for all people to see history through the lens of African American people, as well as learn about the many contributions made throughout history.  I encourage your participation (http://www.asp.ucr.edu/events/Pages/default.aspx ).

And finally, leadership occurs sometimes in unintended ways. For example, the CBS TV show Undercover Boss featured UCR last spring. On January 3rd I received a letter from Darrell Walker, an 8th Grade Science Teacher at Elizabeth City Middle School in North Carolina.  Darrell noticed in a class taught by UCR’s Chemistry Professor Catharine Larsen that she used classroom clickers to assess learning in real time. The clickers enabled Professor Larsen to conduct a brief in-class quiz; results were tabulated instantly and anonymously so she could assess which facts were understood and which needed more work.

Darrell was so inspired by Professor Larsen’s leadership that he applied for a small grant in his school district to put clickers into his classroom, because minorities and females are underrepresented in the areas of Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics.  With these clickers he could assess students privately and discreetly, eliminating any bias or ridicule from peers that would otherwise occur.

This story points out leadership is contagious: Larsen inspired Walker, and now Walker inspires the rest of us with his leadership – and makes a big difference for his young students.

In closing with this group of Emerging Leaders, I noted that most succinctly and profoundly leadership is not your title, but rather what you do.

Leadership is going beyond self, to help others have an opportunity to overcome and succeed.

Leadership is about the vision you can share – but it’s also about what you do when no one is watching.

Leadership is doing everything in your power to live your promise, and going beyond self to help others realize their promise as well.



Tim White, Chancellor

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A Week for Writers
UCR’s department of Creative Writing offers the 35th annual Writers Week starting Tuesday, Feb. 7th. This free event draws seasoned writers and beginners alike to celebrate the literary arts – come join us for a great UCR tradition.

The Imperfect Storm
The Clark Kerr lecture by Neil Smelser, a noted professor emeritus of sociology at UC Berkeley, discusses the perfect storm of factors threatening higher education. A must attend event: Tuesday, Feb. 14, 4 PM – 5:30 PM, HUB 302.

Semper Fi to Fiat Lux
A grant gives Louise Daniels, who served in the U.S. Marine Corps, a scholarship to UC Riverside. She is the ninth student selected for a program that helps students bridge from Riverside City College to four year schools to major in science, technology, engineering or mathematics.

Find out what else is going on at UC Riverside: http://www.ucr.edu/happenings/

Keep up with UCR news. We have a lot going on! Search this brand new site for just the news you want, or see related videos and stories: http://ucrtoday.ucr.edu

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