National Leadership Forum 2011

4 Apr

Image Credit:Wharton Photography

Over boxes of Chick-fil-A sandwiches in room 115 of the Academic Building, Erwin McManus discussed with student s how businessmen and students alike tend to create a polarization between faith and intellect. The 2011 National Leadership Forum that took place on campus over spring break communicated lessons of business leadership along with a spiritual component. The annual conference draws a large crowd of men and women in the workforce seeking the knowledge and insights of renowned leaders. The focal speakers this year were former president George W. Bush and former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice. Other speakers included Dan Cathy, president of Chick-fil-A, Super Bowl champion Kurt Warner, and Franklin Graham.
Southeastern University students had the opportunity to take the Forum for credit in business, communication, psychology, and religion.
“There are so many different perspectives from various CEOs,” said religion student Brandon Watts. “No two of their business experiences are the same. The luncheons and the book signings also give us a chance to approach and interact with some of the speakers.”
Working for media services during the Forum was fun because I got to learn so much from all the speakers,” said Denise Tomkinson, who ran camera at the Forum
For educators, business people, and students, the forum presented a platform for learning better decision making skills
Those in attendance were in the presence of some extraordinary leaders.
Dr. Gordon Miller, the Dean of Arts and Sciences, had the opportunity of interviewing Condoleezza Rice.
“It was a wonderful experience,” said Dr. Miller. “Dr. Rice was gracious, personable, and easy to talk to.”
Dr. Miller pointed out that opportunities to learn from the interview emerged from hearing her perspective on foreign policy and the current situation in Libya, her upbringing in segregated Birmingham, the tough decisions she has had to make at Stanford University that has impacted other minority groups, and her parents’ impact to ensure that Dr. Rice had a complete life. He also enjoyed seeing the dialogue and interaction between George W. Bush and Condoleezza Rice.
Dr. Miller and Southeastern University President Dr. Kent Ingle also had the opportunity to sit down with Condoleezza Rice and George W. Bush before the on-stage interviews.
Students who presented and went for credit put faces to the university. However, Forum could not have run smoothly without the help of the red carpet student volunteers. They represented the servant leadership that is at the core of the university and the Forum.
“It was awesome to get to shake hands with George W. Bush,” said volunteer Susy Lydecker. “I got to meet new people and help whenever I was needed.”
In the future, it will be difficult to top the caliber of speakers like George W. Bush and Condoleezza Rice.
“Last year Marcus Birmingham spoke. I would like to see him and Mark Sanburn return,” said Dr. Miller of future forums. “I would also like to see someone like former British Prime Minister Tony Blair or someone who has been a leader through a time of change. It would also be nice to a media person or a renowned correspondent. However, it is not my decision to make.”
This year’s forum featured speakers, from founder of Auntie Anne’s Hand-Rolled Soft Pretzels Anne Beiler, who grew up on a farm in an Amish family to George W. Bush, who would not speak about his successor in a negative light, all exhibited servant leadership and set an example for leadership and decision making at the 2011 Forum.

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