Established 1885

The Washburn Review

Established 1885

The Washburn Review

Established 1885

The Washburn Review

Leadership Institute Learning in the Community combine to offer better student experiences

    Leadership+Institute+and+Learning+in+the+Community+are+merging+to+create+the+Aleshire+Center+for+Leadership+%26+Community+Engagement.+This+new+collaboration+will+increase+meaningful+programming+for+students.
    by Tiana Smith, MM403 Special Reporter
    Leadership Institute and Learning in the Community are merging to create the Aleshire Center for Leadership & Community Engagement. This new collaboration will increase meaningful programming for students.

    The Washburn University Alumni Association and Foundation released a press release Aug. 30  announcing the merger of Washburn University’s Leadership Institute and Learning in the Community programs.

    The decision to combine the programs was made after a donation of $2 million had been made to the Leadership Institute this past summer. The donation comes from Joe and Janet Aleshire, who have been supporters of the Leadership Institute since 2009 through various donations and grants. The new center, which will be called the Aleshire Center for Leadership & Community Engagement, is planned to officially launch in fall 2024.

    Lauren Edelman, director of the Leadership Institute, approached Kristine Hart, director of Learning in the Community, with the idea of combining their programs after receiving news of the donation being made.

    “The timing was perfect for both of us to reimagine the programs that we work with currently and think about how we can create a new center that allows us to form the infrastructure that allows us to offer sustainable, meaningful and intentional programming for students moving forward,” Edelman said. She will serve as the director of the new center.

    There is still a lot of planning that needs to be done, but Hart and Edelman are hopeful that this new center will provide their respective students with more opportunities for personal development.

    “I just think that having people from the leadership side and our side, thinking about what we’re able to offer is going to be something that is really going to benefit students and their learning process as well,” Hart said.

    While there will be a lot of changes during the process of combining programs, there will be important aspects of each program that will stay the same. The Bonner Scholar Program, which currently is run under Learning in the Community, will continue under the new center. Regular meetings, like the Leadership Institute’s current All-Institute Nights, will still be held for students interested in leadership development. Students will also still be able to pursue minors in leadership studies as well as community studies.

    The place where change will be most evident is in the opportunities that will be offered to students, such as increased scholarships and community engagement experiences.

    “I just think it opens up, for some of our existing programs, more resources, rather than throwing everything out and starting from scratch,” Hart said. “I think it also brings not only resources but creativity to the table from different angles.”

    Both programs have been working together since August to imagine the collaboration’s mission and to discover what they want to incorporate in the integration.

    “We’ve been really intentional to make sure that we meet every other week as a full team,” Edelman said. “Everybody from directors to administrative specialists have a voice at the table with the decisions that we’re making.”

    Additionally, a committee has been formed that consists of campus partners, community partners and students. This committee will meet monthly and offer feedback to aid in the new program’s development.

    “We’ve got a team of 10 really committed people who are excited to engage with us along this journey and make sure that we have a community voice, we have a campus voice and most importantly, we have student voice,” Edelman said.

    Edelman and Hart encourage students to reach out with any questions, concerns or feedback they may have.

    “When we ask students what they want from like a leadership development perspective, we get a lot of feedback that students want community mentors, they want to learn from people who are working on issues that they care about in our community, they want to know what’s out there, and they want to make a difference,” Edelman said.

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