Leading by example

This month, as more than 3500 of our students celebrate a significant milestone in their lives by graduating from UTAS, another smaller, deliberately-selected cohort of students are marking an additional accomplishment.

These 52 students from across a wide range of academic discipline, age, culture and gender have completed the UTAS Vice-Chancellor's Leadership Award.

The University supports this program because we are committed to developing our students as leaders. I was pleased to be able to present certificates to the participants at ceremonies in Hobart and Launceston and was inspired listening to students speak of the tangible outcomes they had achieved.

The Award involves a series of seminars, at least 40 hours of volunteer work and the writing of selfreflective pieces on leadership based on personal experience. Students complete the Award on top of their academic, employment, family and social commitments.

Universities have always embraced the mission of preparing the leaders of tomorrow, yet leadership is not an attribute that can be learned directly from the curriculum.

A quote attributed to Somerset Maugham sums up the difficulty – "It is well known that there are three rules for creating good leaders, unfortunately no one knows what they are".

The words of the students at the Award ceremonies described some of the insights they gained from their own perspectives. They spoke in particular of personal attributes such as strength of character, work ethic, community awareness, initiative, communication, giving of self, teamwork and problemsolving.

They also described gaining a deeper knowledge of themselves, a level of self-awareness that they will continue to build on over their lives.

As an added outcome, more than 60 Tasmanian organisations also gained from having the students volunteer more than 7000 hours of service during the Award programs. Contribution to the community was highlighted by several speakers.

As we as a university develop our next Strategic Plan, we challenge ourselves to identify what will draw students to our campuses in 10 years time. Studying at University is more than the acquisition of information; students do not and will not join us for the sake of curriculum alone.

Breadth of experience, diversity of opportunity and the chance to learn from interactions with peers and others are at the heart of what we provide. In turn these breed the attributes that ensure the next generation of leaders, able to contribute to personal and community advance alike. Their achievements enrich our reputation and our legacy.

I'm not so sure you can do better than that.

Peter Rathjen
Vice-Chancellor

Published on: 19 Dec 2011 9:57am