Southern must work to involve students in leadership, academics

Greg Salzer - State News Editor

Greg Salzer – State News Editor

Public higher education institutions in Missouri, called upon to take on an expanded roll in the state to be part of team tackling state financial and humanity concerns, are developing the potential of tomorrow’s leaders.

Leadership entails developing individual skills of the group to achieve a supportive, collaborative group effort.

A group is only as strong as the weakest link if the weakest link is leadership. Strong leaders recognize the potential and capabilities of each link, developing positions in the group tailored to meet the abilities of each member. A group with clearly defined roles, collaborative effort and leadership willing to delegate power responsibly has the highest potential.

Southern has had the benefit of University President León’s quality leadership for well more than two decades. León’s presentation to the House Higher Education Committee earlier this year exemplified practiced leadership.

Even with a qualified leader, Southern has not reached its fullest potential.

Achieving this potential will involve León, faculty and students working collectively.

To develop leadership within the students of Southern, the University must continue to empower students through continued support of student organizations, student athletes and the Student Senate.

Students then must step up and accept the mantle of leadership and weight of responsibility. The opportunity to experience leadership in the safe and secure university setting is not to be wasted.

Participation in more than academics will only increase potential. Through helping the less fortunate with a student organization, more than classroom knowledge is learned. We learn humility; we gain humanity.

The University must also challenge students intellectually. The “dumbing” down of classes, the requiring of unnecessary courses and the introduction of more online classes is contributing to a decline in students’ ability to think critically.

Discourse between professor and student develops critical thinking skills necessary to survive and thrive in the academic and professional world.

Students permitted and encouraged to challenge the veracity of statements or assumptions made by their professors assume more responsibility for their own education. Both professor and students would derive greater benefits from this interaction.

Unfortunately, by limiting certain classes to Internet only, Southern is limiting intellectual development. Online courses take away the crucial face-to-face dialogue.

The assumption Internet classes will double enrollment of Southern is a farce. As demand for online education increases, so to will the number of schools offering such courses. Supply (online universities) will quickly meet demand

(students wanting online courses.)

Unless Southern has more to offer potential and current students, the growth of the school will stall and stagnant.

The University should promote and seek more opportunities for students and staff to advance academically and contribute to the economy of Southwest Missouri.

Faculty should be more encouraged to seek out grants for research projects. Southern should take advantage of student abilities as part of the classroom curriculum in Web design, campus security and research, among other areas.

Not only will this add financial benefit for the University and staff, the practical application of classroom knowledge will benefit student learning.