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February 4, 2016

First Cohort of Students Participate in the College’s Leadership Institute

Student participating in the college's leadership institute gathered in Saratoga Springs the last weekend of January 2016. Photo/Empire State College
Twenty-five students from Buffalo to Long Island participated in the college’s leadership institute gathered in Saratoga Springs the last weekend of January 2016. Photo/Empire State College

Twenty-five students, together with faculty and professional staff, gathered in January for SUNY Empire State College’s Student Leadership Institute Winter Retreat at the college’s 2 Union Ave., Saratoga Springs location.

Students from Buffalo to Long Island and points in between participated in an intense weekend of team-building through workshops on group dynamics, conflict resolution, problem solving, media training and much more.

“I am loving it,” said student Robert Barton II. “It has been a very good experience. I have witnessed the profound impact it has had on some of my colleagues, up to and including tears that have been shed. The institute is right on track with what is important to us.”

The Amherst N.Y. resident, who is pursuing a bachelor’s in Business, Management and Economics, said he attended the leadership retreat because he wanted to learn more about himself in order to improve his leadership skills. Conflict resolution and public speaking were Barton's areas of focus.

Saturday morning, a panel discussion focusing on building alliances included remarks from state Assemblywoman Carrie Woerner, Francine Dingeman, principal owner of Network Saratoga, and Pat Myers, the college’s director of collegewide student affairs, who also moderated the question-and-answer session with the students.

All three women stressed that developing strategic, individual relationships is the key to building successful alliances.

“As a leader, you have to know that you cannot please everyone,” Myers said about managing difficult relationships. “Your case may not excite them. Learn to respond always professionally and without undue emotion. Unchecked emotion can drive conflict and discord. Recognize when people have different opinions and look for the win-win solution.”

“I am happy to be here because I know that all of you want to change the world,” said Woerner.

In response to several questions about the process of introducing and getting a bill signed into law, Woerner emphasized the need for both patience and persistence in working with the state Legislature.

“See obstacles (in building strategic relationships) as challenges,” said Dingeman in response to a question from one of the student leaders. “Read your audience. Find the soft spot in the other person’s heart.”

The college’s leadership institute provides students with a year-long experience to develop and enhance their skills in working with others to achieve common goals and positively impact the world.

The leadership institute is designed to help students to:

  • develop an awareness of self and empathy for others
  • understand the principles of ethical leadership
  • develop problem-solving skills
  • develop conflict resolution skills
  • refine their organizational and time management skills
  • develop public speaking skills
  • improve their self-confidence and self-efficacy
  • develop a positive relationship with challenges, failure and crises
  • develop communication skills
  • participate in a call to action.

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