“Service and Leadership”, a Message from The Impressive Dr. Howard!

By Lisa Dussault

One of the most important life lessons a student can learn is the appropriate way to act in professional and social environments. Siena College prides itself on promoting good behavior among students and on preparing us for the future. From November 5th -7th, the renowned Dr. Christopher Howard will be coming to Siena as a Visiting Scholar of Leadership to talk with students about what it takes to be an honest, moral leader. Professor Joseph Fitzgerald is the coordinator for the event and he strongly recommends that everyone attend this esteemed occasion regardless of your major!

The companionship of ethics and business practices are so important that Siena is part of the National Consortium for Character-Based Leadership, an association of high schools, universities, graduate schools, and military and civilian leadership programs. There are two goals the Consortium has for the schools involved: to allow all the members to exchange ideas and beliefs with each other, and to provide members access to innovative curriculum that help develop character-based leadership practices in young future leaders. This helps schools integrate the practice of leadership and ethics into everyday living. It seems that these qualities are not always included in the academic curriculum for business classes. According to the beliefs behind the Consortium, integrity, communication and empowerment should all be incorporated within business programs. By being a member of this organization, Siena asserts the necessity of character and good leadership, and seeks to prepare students for the real world by teaching them ways to uphold their good character in times of struggle. In the future, the National Consortium hopes to expand its system by diversifying its curriculum in order to even better prepare students for real life challenges in the world.

Recently, when Professor Fitzgerald went to a leadership conference at Georgetown University conducted by the Consortium, Dr. Howard was a panelist. Professor Fitzgerald instantly recognized his vibrant and fascinating character and said he was “enthralled by his message because he was a very dynamic speaker and seemed like a person of great value and integrity.” In light of that, Dr. Howard was asked to come and spend a few days at Siena to talk to students and faculty about business ethics and theories. Currently, Dr. Howard is the Associate Vice President for Leadership and Strategic Initiatives at the University of Oklahoma, where he is also the Director of the Honors College Leadership Center and the President’s Vice Presidential Professor. He teaches leadership to the top undergraduates using the “Great Books” method, where he uses works by Plato, Twain and others to help him teach. But that is not all he has accomplished thus far in his life. In 1991, he was a Distinguished Graduate of the US Air Force Academy where he got a degree in Political Science and was the starting running back on the football team. When he graduated, he was awarded the title of Rhode Scholar, and then wrote his dissertation on congressional behavior at Oxford University. He also went to Intelligence Officer School where he was a helicopter pilot and an Intelligence Officer, graduating first in his class. Dr. Howard also serves on many volunteer programs including Secure the Future, which is an HIV/AIDS initiative in southern Africa. He is also the founder of the Impact Young Lives Foundation, an organization that offers scholarships and travel opportunities for South African students.

Dr. Howard has also been given several honorable awards. In 1998, he was named “100 Heroes of Plano Independent School District.” Then in 2003, he was initiated into the Verizon Academic All-American Hall of Fame as the youngest member ever to have been accepted that year. Also in 2003, he served as the Chief Information Officer at General Electric’s Corporate Initiatives Group. All of these achievements only highlight the other great successes of Dr. Howard. He is involved in a wide range of other groups, committees, associations and non-profit organizations. He is a very “fascinating character,” is “well known in leadership circles,” and has “a very impressive, bright future ahead of him,” Professor Fitzgerald stated. Everyone in any kind of field would benefit from hearing Dr. Howard!

He will be around the Siena Campus for a whole three days, attending small group meetings with students and faculty during breakfast and lunch hours. His schedule is filled with talks and meetings that allow him to express his knowledge to those who want to learn. His main event is on November 6th at 7:00 PM in the MAC where he will give his key note address to all students at Siena and the public with a reception to follow. Students may even get a chance to interview Dr. Howard, which will play on WVCR or on SCTV. Hearing and talking with Dr. Howard is a great way for anyone to be exposed to leadership, find out about opportunities in leadership positions, understand Siena’s mission as a College, and become more informed about ways one can incorporate ethics and morals into business dealings. The faculty finds it very important for all students to go to this event because it is not every day that someone as impressive as Dr. Howard is able to come and talk at our school. No matter what school or subject you are part of, listening to Dr. Howard’s powerful speech can help you in your future endeavors!

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