Dean's Insight - Leadership Development

Former Dean James Pappas of CLS

View any current events website, blog or news magazine, and you will discover no shortage of troublesome issues facing humankind. War, religious extremism, economic calamities, disease outbreaks, environmental concerns and many other complex problems seem to have joined death and taxes as today’s certainties. As a result, ours is a world hungry for leaders willing to step up and address these problems. In virtually every realm of society—from politics to business, from healthcare to media, from technology to social services—many individuals come forward claiming to be leaders with answers, but all too often we discover their qualifications lacking and their vision limited. However, it is reassuring that the University of Oklahoma has produced numerous highly capable leaders over the course of more than 100 years.

The College of Liberal Studies offers two degree programs and one certificate program focusing on leadership: a Bachelor of Arts in Administrative Leadership (BAAL), a Master of Arts in Administrative Leadership (MAAL) and a Graduate Certificate in Administrative Leadership. Each of these programs helps students develop communication, strategic planning, analytical and project/team management skills that are essential for professionals seeking a competitive advantage in the workplace. Students in these programs are exposed to real-world strategic methods and thinking and gain insights from the interdisciplinary approach pioneered by the college. This means they do not simply learn academic theories about leadership but they actually engage in pragmatic scholarship that finds application to the kinds of interdisciplinary issues and problems they will encounter in the “outside world.”

Beyond CLS, University Outreach offers other programs bearing the word “leadership.” To me, this signifies that our organization puts a lot of stock in the concept of leadership, in its importance in today’s world and in our ability to provide expertise in this area. With the spring issue of Insight focusing on leadership, it seems appropriate to discuss these programs and our commitment to leadership development.

Undergraduate and Graduate Administrative Leadership Degrees

Both the CLS undergraduate and the graduate degrees in administrative leadership are fast paced programs particularly designed to accommodate working adults. These programs have remarkable application in a variety of settings, whether corporate, nonprofit, military, social service or other. Further, they help students understand and gain knowledge of leadership competencies. Also, these programs reflect the interdisciplinary nature of leadership, drawing on such disciplines as management, psychology, sociology and other areas. 

Organizational Leadership Ph.D. 

As of FY 2014, 82 students have completed their Doctorate in Organizational Leadership. This program, offered through Advanced Programs, originated in 1996 in collaboration with academic departments and the OU Graduate College. A unique, nontraditional doctoral program, it is offered exclusively in Europe primarily for military personnel and provides an interdisciplinary approach to the study of the topics, theories and research critical to the professional success of leaders in different organizational settings. It is a research-based degree program that prepares students to contribute, through their scholarly work, to the body of knowledge and theoretical foundations of their chosen disciplines and apply this knowledge in the workplace.

Faculty members teaching in this program are internationally recognized and travel to Europe to teach each of the courses. The program has been established as a cohort model and the value of this model is apparent when students support one another in their pursuit of the Ph.D. The ultimate success of any Ph.D. program depends on how successful it is in training scholars—specifically research scholars. The OU cohort model has a proven record of success. The high rate of cohort and faculty interaction has contributed to the scholarly development of the students within each cohort and has provided one of the highest graduation rates among OU graduate training programs. 

The design of the program allows students to explore a variety of relevant fields and then to apply each field to their areas of interest. For example, students may focus their applications on public and private organizations, educational administration, curriculum development, organizational administration, public administration, human resource management or other areas of personal and professional interest.

Center for Leadership Excellence 

In the noncredit arena, Outreach recently launched the Center for Leadership Excellence, directed by Dr. Paul Dyer (see this blog post for Dr. Dyer’s thoughts on leadership). The center’s primary goal is to improve the performance of leaders. It does this through a set of four core programs (Leading the Enterprise, Leading from the Inside Out, Program for Effective Leadership and Foundations for Effective Leadership) and two skill development programs (The Emotional Leader and Coach, Mentor and Leader). In addition, two credit certificate programs (The Information Technology Leader and The Oil and Gas Leader) are available. The center takes the best thinking in leadership development theory and research coupled with significant real-world experience to help transform leaders, the teams they lead and the organizations they serve.

Center for Public Management Leadership Initiatives

Outreach’s Center for Public Management (CPM) partners with the Oklahoma Department of Human Services (DHS) to offer a variety of customized noncredit leadership programs to meet organizational needs. Annually, CPM supports the Adult and Family Services Leadership Conference, the Child Welfare Services Leadership Conference and the Oklahoma Women’s Leadership Conference. Other customized leadership programs include the Legal Leadership Institute for DHS Child Support Services and the new DHS LeadUP program. LeadUP is a 10-month leadership development program to develop individual leadership attributes and capabilities. LeadUP offers a series of five intensive face-to-face sessions focused on authentic leadership, organizational change, organizational culture, building resonant teams and leadership coaching skills. The program also includes blended learning components such as a 360-degree assessment, an online personal development tool, capstone projects, cohort learning groups, mentoring and an online learning community to promote collaboration and sharing of leadership best practices.

Success Stories of Our Graduates

We love to hear about the success of our graduates. Graduates of the College of Liberal Studies and Advanced Programs are succeeding in a variety of leadership roles in a variety of settings: 

  • Pamela Ballard (Bachelor of Arts in Administrative Leadership [BAAL]) currently serves as executive director of the United Way of Enid and Northwest Oklahoma. 
  • Jennifer Berry Gooden (Bachelor of Arts in Liberal Studies [BALS])became Miss America in 2006 and founded Jennifer Berry, Inc. 
  • Laura Johnson (Master of Arts in Administrative Leadership [MAAL]) is professor of art history at the University of Tulsa and directed the Gilcrease-Palazzo Pitti Project in Florence, Italy. 
  • Dr. Jerry Ledlow (Ph.D. in Organizational Leadership [OL]) is a professor at Georgia Southern University and owner of New Visions Network. 
  • Jeannie McDaniel (BALS) has served in the Oklahoma House of Representatives since her election in 2005, and she has served as Assistant Minority Floor Leader.
  • Dr. Eric Morrison (OL) is associate professor at the Command and General Staff College in Fort Leavenworth, Kansas, and directs the National Center for Research and Practice, Military and Veteran Psychology.
  • Joel Spangenberg (MAAL) is one of the top executives in the U.S. Selective Service System, the federal agency charged with providing personnel to the Department of Defense in the event of national emergencies.

There are so many other examples of how graduates of our programs have gone on to attain significant leadership positions in a variety of public and private areas. Witnessing their success is gratifying to all of us involved in the College of Liberal Studies and University Outreach and we are encouraged that their leadership is backed by strong academic programs.

Dean Jim Pappas Signature

James P. Pappas, Ph.D.
Vice President for Outreach and
Dean, College of Liberal Studies
Update: The College of Liberal Studies was renamed the College of Professional and Continuing Studies in 2017.
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The College of Professional and Continuing Studies is a fully accredited academic unit of the University of Oklahoma, offering 100% online, hybrid and onsite degrees for working adults and non-traditional students.