Miami University has no shortage of leadership organizations and initiatives, but the Harry T. Wilks Leadership Institute is looking to paint a coherent picture of those projects with the help of its new director, Eric Buller.
According to Scott Walter, assistant vice president for student affairs, the Wilks Institute has been without a director for roughly four years, and many of their long standing, “think-tank” type projects ended this past spring.
“We have all of these great leadership opportunities at Miami, but no way to tie them together,” Walter said.
Buller said a redirection of the institute is exactly what he has in mind.
“There’s a strong desire to provide a central focus for the university in terms of leadership development, and there’s a strong feeling that the Wilks Institute should be at the center of that,” Buller said. “[Up to this point] we cannot tell the story of leadership development at Miami. We need to know what has been done, what we are doing now, and what is being done in the future.”
Of the many initiatives the institute could take, Walter noted that a few were higher in priority than others. According to Walter, many of the institute’s initiatives would revolve around the cooperation of different departments, and the allocation of resources in order to more effectively allow opportunities on campus to reach the majority of students.
“We’re discussing the formation of a thematic sequence in leadership, and possibly the creation of a minor,” Walter said.
Walter also revealed that the institute has goals including but not limited to: a more calculated approach to which speakers are featured on campus, different ways to pool resources to maximize value, and a “steering committee” which would focus on presenting leadership opportunities to students and include members from many different academic areas of the university.
Buller, who arrived on campus and began work this week, said much of the institute’s focus will come from knowing what other organizations are doing, and providing a centralized focus that the university currently lacks. He is a retired United States Army veteran, and was involved with Army ROTC at Eastern Carolina University prior to assuming his position with Miami.
Buller mentioned that the office was receptive to his arrival, and seemed glad that someone was here to lead the organization, given the absence of a director in the past.
“The end goal for me is that the Wilks Institute is the center of gravity for leadership development on campus,” Buller said.
Students on campus said they are excited to hear about leadership opportunities they can get involved in.
“When I came for my freshman orientation, there were definitely opportunities that you could get involved with, but I don’t remember hearing too much about leadership opportunities,” sophomore Tony Morgano said. “It’s definitely good to communicate those things with the students.”
Sophomore Rocco Baldasare agreed, “There’s so much stuff that you can get involved in between Greek life, sports, and classes, it’s hard to know where to start so it’s good that they’re getting the information out there.”