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Learning to lead: faculty take part in MI_LEAD

Miami University President Gregory Crawford initiated the Miami Institute for Leadership and Executive Advanced Development (MI_LEAD) this August to train faculty members and prepare them to obtain higher positions in the future.

The program took place Aug. 7-8 with a day-and-a-half long workshop and will continue throughout the school year with follow-up meetings and monthly lunches. The 25 attendees at the event were appointed by the head of their divisions, and many of them were assistant vice presidents or associate deans.

This was the first year for the program, which is meant to foster smooth transitions when upper leadership officials retire or leave.

"The MI_LEAD Program is designed to develop a new generation of leaders on campus who can rise to the occasion, when needed, to lead their divisions," Crawford said.

The workshop in early August consisted of speakers from various fields discussing their views on leadership and providing concrete examples from their own experiences. Presenters included leaders both within and outside the university and ranged from Crawford to CEOs to military personnel -- all of whom had some stake in higher education.

"We really wanted this experience to include leadership across disciplines and industries because so many leadership principles cross boundaries," Crawford said.

Deputy Director of Athletics Jude Killy appreciates the program because it continues throughout the whole year instead of ending with one conference.

"It was really an investment from the university into its current personnel which I think was something we all that participated took away from it and felt very positive about," Killy said.

One of Crawford's goals for the initiative was to humanize leadership principles by allowing people to tell their own stories.

Interim director of the music department Christopher Tanner attended the conference and has served in various leadership roles throughout his career both professionally and through directing the steel band.

"That experience of being an ensemble director has provided leadership opportunity for me throughout my career," Tanner said.

Tanner also appreciated the opportunity to meet leaders from different departments through MI_LEAD.

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"The participants in the program comprise an excellent cohort of faculty and staff colleagues," Tanner said. "The members of the cohort are not only being introduced to the speakers who are in senior leadership positions, but we're also getting to know one another."

Crawford hoped that through the speaker's stories, participants would be better able to visualize the principles they were being presented with.

"We also wanted to feature and emphasize one core aspect of leadership, which is the human dimension, to provide insight into the core virtues that help leaders lead through challenges, growth, opportunity, change etc., leading always with purpose, mission, collaboration, relationship-building and trust," Crawford said.

Crawford said MI_LEAD will continue in the future with a new group of people each year.