Fostering Skills and Awareness for Lifelong Leadership


We live in increasingly complex times, and the call to prepare students for lives of leadership is a pressing one. As the challenges get more complex and interwoven, the need for future leaders who can navigate complexity and deliver positive change is paramount. One of the great advantages of a liberal arts education is the weaving together of learning, experience and reflection from a variety of perspectives and disciplines – and leadership development at Davidson is aimed at utilizing the strengths of the liberal arts to provide students the platforms needed to develop into the best possible leaders for a complex world.

In the Chidsey Center for Leadership Development, we have the opportunity to engage with students who are exploring their capabilities through high-impact development opportunities and programming to foster the skills and awareness necessary for lifelong leadership. To do so, we emphasize four key areas:

  1. Awareness of Self:  Developing understanding and utilization of strengths and skills, a clear sense of purpose, and a commitment to learning and growth.
  2. Positive Relationships with Others:  Leadership does not happen in a vacuum; it is highly relational and contextual. Successful leadership requires skill in interpersonal relationships, appreciation of how to influence and effectively engage in teams, and an understanding of systems and cultural change.
  3. A Sense of Agency:  Nothing will change unless action is taken. Recognizing that leadership can come from anywhere, we aim to support students in developing the mindset of “running to trouble;” building a desire and willingness to tackle tough and complex problems.
  4. Leadership Theory and Critical Thinking:  A hallmark of liberal arts education is the capacity for critical thinking, and we build upon the study of leadership theory, experiential opportunities to apply learning, and a commitment to reflection.

We espouse that leadership can come from any student at any time, and we offer myriad ways for students to develop their capacity in this regard. The Chidsey Center offers a variety of programs, working with students who have varying needs and desires to explore their capacity for leadership. Our signature program, the Chidsey Leadership Fellows, is a three-year developmental program filled with seminars and experiences that are progressive in nature and engage students in high-impact leadership development opportunities. Fellows bring their lived experiences to seminars, examine leadership theory and best practices, and engage in discussion and reflection.

Additionally, the Chidsey Center administers the Leadership Davidson program, bringing together influential student organization leaders to network, collaborate, and further develop their leadership knowledge.  The Chidsey Center also advises the annual Katherine M. Bray Women’s Leadership Conference and hosts a leadership series featuring Davidson alumni and other inspiring leaders who have made exceptional contributions to their communities. Finally, we partner with other departments, faculty and the community to support leadership across campus.

If you would like to learn more or have thoughts you are willing to share, we encourage you to connect with the Chidsey Center for Leadership Development staff. To learn more about the center or to connect with us on social media, check us out on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter.


About Author

Newell is the director of the Chidsey Center for Leadership Development. He works with a talented staff to provide oversight of the key programs within the center and to build relationships and foster collaboration among colleagues, community partners and alumni to drive leadership development at Davidson and beyond.

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