This past week, the Executive Board had a presentation on the Mary Jane and Hugh M. Archer Center for Student Leadership Development, more commonly known as the Archer Center. Linda Teitelman McCloskey, the director of the Archer Center, came before the Board to give us a history lesson on the center and its connections with the Rensselaer Union and the Executive Board. She brought in posters, brochures, program descriptions, and data on student participation in programs. It was fascinating to learn that the Archer Center began as leadership development programs for club leadership, all led by McCloskey and the Union’s administrative staff. The Archer Center was originally established within the Union by the Executive Board, and from there, it continued to grow. As the center grew in size, leadership development services were requested by clubs both affiliated and unaffliated with the Union.
Currently, the Archer Center offers various workshops, classes, and events and reaches around 6,000 students each year. They have annual programs and also create custom programs on request. They also teach both graduates and undergraduates; the Archer Center teaches classes in the Lally School of Management, and each engineering student will see the Archer Center when they take either Introduction to Engineering Design, Professional Development III, or both. Annual events not related directly to the curriculum include the Professional Leadership Program, the Emerging Leaders Program, or Club Leaders Utilizing Best Practices, Leadership House, and Slice of Leadership.
A program that the current Executive Board expressed particular interest in was the leadership conference, which was held annually in the fall. The program was a day-long leadership conference held at the Union, with more than 300 student participants each year. The conference was set up in collaboration with a variety of companies students often see at the career fair, with each company donating money to help run the conference. It was a fantastic opportunity for students to connect with professionals, network, and build leadership skills. Unfortunately, the conference hasn’t been held since 2008; companies were unable to help fund the program. The Executive Board enthusiastically encouraged the Archer Center to reach out to companies again, seeing if we could revive the leadership conference in the upcoming years.
This was one of the reasons I asked McCloskey to come before the Executive Board and speak. Not because I wanted to revive programs or increase funding to the Archer Center—although both would be great future goals—but instead, to reestablish a connection between the Executive Board and the Archer Center. Although the Union only funds a portion of the Archer Center, we are still a large part of its history, and we should continue to support and get involved in its efforts to educate students and inspire them to get involved in more leadership activities.
As a past participant in the Emerging Leaders Program and a current member of the Professional Leadership Program, I can testify to the incredible benefit any student can get out of getting involved in the Archer Center’s leadership development programs. I have always felt that the Archer Center’s programs challenge me to reach new heights, go out of my comfort zone, and find out what leadership truly means to me. In these programs I have focused on developing and enhancing skills in communication, decision making, and teamwork, and I have also reflected on key aspects of effective leadership and how to utilize those qualities to become a better leader. Without those programs, I would definitely not be the leader I am today.
If you have any questions about the Archer Center or its programs, please e-mail McCloskey at firstname.lastname@example.org or just stop in and visit the Archer Center in Academy Hall 2232; they love student visitors! Have a good rest of the week everyone, and if you have any questions relating to Union activities, please e-mail me at email@example.com.