USF can’t get enough leadership studies

The new USF Leadership Studies program is in such high demand from students that it is expected to be offered on every campus by the fall semester.

Laurie Woodward, director for USF Leadership Studies, said she taught her first leadership class, a two-credit course, in 1996.

“It was for student leaders to learn to coach their organizations,” Woodward said.

But that wasn’t enough for the students, she added.

“They wanted more, so we created a minor,” she said.

The program was approved in spring 2001. Since then, 45 students have graduated from the program, and 130 students are currently enrolled. The program is offered at the USF Tampa, Lakeland and St. Petersburg campuses and will be offered in Sarasota this fall.

It has been no easy task for Woodward and others involved. In fact, when the program first started, none of the staff were paid for the classes they taught.

“The Tampa campus still isn’t funding. Only the Lakeland campus is paying somewhat through tuition,” Woodward said.

In the course catalog, Leadership Studies classes are listed under Lakeland or St. Petersburg as “taught off campus,” meaning they are taught on the Tampa campus.

USF Leadership Studies does not yet have its own office and is run out of the offices of Student Activities. A library for the program has been set up in the Student Activities offices in the Phyllis P. Marshall Center.

Regardless of the lack of funding, Woodward and others feel dedicated to the program.

“We had to teach these courses because the students wanted them,” Woodward said.

A minor in Leadership Studies is comprised of 18 credits, including three core course requirements, and a choice of three additional courses from the program’s list of approved courses.

This minor works with students in all areas of study, Woodward said.

“It’s for anyone who wants to take a leadership role in their field, whether they be in education, art or the business world,” Woodward said.

With an average of 15-20 students, the classes are small.

Sophomore Jessica Morgan said she chose a minor in Leadership Studies to explore her leadership skills, discover talents and learn how to work with people. Morgan is involved with a number of different student groups including Homecoming, Volunteer USF and her sorority.

“We do a lot of group work and exploration of personal experiences. We apply class to life and bring it back to our student organizations,” Morgan said.