& Best: U-M wins award for leadership development initiative

Aerial photo of cenntral campus from the northeast facing the southwest

April 27, 2023  |  By Nick Pfost

ACUI, the Association of College Unions International, has recognized the University of Michigan with its prestigious and competitive Excellence in Student Training Programs award. The award spotlights creative educational programs to prepare students as leaders or employees. U-M received the distinction for the success of the M-LEAD’s innovative Impact Initiative, which has provided training and support for supervisors of student employees while engaging those students in reflective practice to enhance their leadership development and career readiness.

Through the program, students chose three leadership competencies to focus on; received one-on-one support from their direct supervisor through four intentional, but informal, touchpoints; and completed entry and exit surveys to measure their growth. In 2021 and 2022, over 86% of participants found the supervisory conversations somewhat or very beneficial in their growth in those competencies, and over 90% found the conversations helpful in better understanding the skills they were developing, according to data compiled by Sara Colts, assistant director of Student Life Research.

Overall, compared to when they started the program, student employees engaged in the initiative demonstrated significant growth in key competencies, including action, adaptability, humility, resilience, self-awareness, and vision, regardless of the competency areas they chose to focus on. Students also reported improvements in their ability to apply their new skills to other contexts and communicate about them in a future interview.

The collaborative initiative spanned multiple departments, growing from 10 supervisors and 25 students to over 40 supervisors and more than 100 student employees. The work aligned many existing and emerging leadership education efforts across Student Life—including from the Center for Campus Involvement, The Program on Intergroup Relations, Office of Multi-Ethnic Student Affairs, Ginsberg Center, Office of Student Conflict Resolution, Trotter Multicultural Center, Sexual Assault Prevention and Awareness Center, Munger Graduate Residences, and Student Life Sustainability. Steve Bodei, associate director of M-LEAD for Student Life, led the work with strategic support from Neeraja Aravamudan, director of the Ginsberg Center; Nadia Bazzy, director of the Office of Multi-Ethnic Student Affairs; and Nick Smith, director of the Center for Campus Involvement.

The award was presented in February at the ACUI annual conference in Boston.

Student Life supervisors interested in learning more about or joining the Impact Initiative should email [email protected].