LEWISBURG, Pa. -- "The world desperately needs leaders." Those were the opening words of Bucknell University President John Bravman, who was one of the featured speakers at the inaugural Bucknell Bison Leadership Academy Kickoff Event, held Sunday afternoon at the Campus Theater in downtown Lewisburg. More than 50 Bison student-athletes and their coaches attended the event, which is one of the highlights of year No. 2 of the highly regarded Bucknell Bison Leadership Academy.
Director of athletics and recreation John Hardt and senior associate director of athletics Maisha Kelly hosted the program and offered introductions and remarks. President Bravman was the first featured speaker of the day, and he qualified his opening line by adding that the world does not just need leaders of countries, but leaders in homes, in local communities and in the workplace.
In saluting an audience of student-athletes and coaches, President Bravman said that, "dealing with victory and defeat is something that those who play competitive sports learn to do," and that the lessons learned on the playing fields will carry forward in life.
President Bravman went on to reveal his three essentials of leadership: Integrity, Judgement and Fortitude. He stressed that individuals without integrity will not succeed; that ultimately leaders are paid to make judgements based on the best information possible; and that a true leader must be tough physically, mentally, spiritually and emotionally.
President Bravman's remarks were followed by the keynote address from William R. Gruver, the Howard I. Scott Clinical Professor of Global Commerce, Strategy and Leadership at Bucknell and one of the foremost experts on the topic of leadership (read Bill Gruver's complete bio here).
Prof. Gruver began his address by noting that the student-athletes' "selection to the Bucknell Bison Leadership Academy is more than an honor, it is also an opportunity."
He encouraged each of the student-athletes in the Leadership Academy to adopt a philosophy of leadership, a personal credo. Prof. Gruver went on to suggest that his own leadership philosophy is based on that of another prominent athlete, Jackie Robinson.
He noted that simply "doing your best" is too loose of a standard, that it opens the door for moral victories. Instead, Robinson's goal was to "strive for perfection."
Prof. Gruver related a story about receiving an F on his first paper as an undergraduate at Dartmouth because of a grammatical error in the opening paragraph, and another about absorbing criticism for a late-game mistake in a high school football game that was otherwise one of the best performances of his career. While those were tough lessons at the time, in retrospect Prof. Gruver is thankful for them, as they helped shape his philosophy of striving for perfection.
Prof. Gruver closed by telling the student-athletes in attendance that "as members of the Leadership Academy, you are our student leaders today, and you will be our alumni leaders later. Each of you is capable of achieving a higher standard. Each of you can strive for perfection."
The Bucknell Bison Leadership Academy was launched in August 2011 with the goal of delivering programming and instruction that bridge theory, development and real experiences in an interactive learning environment. Through this endeavor, team leaders can enhance their impact on their teammates' and their program's performance immediately and for years to come.
After a very successful first year, in 2012-13 the Leadership Academy programming has expanded. Numerous seminars have already been held this semester, and the next sessions are planned for Oct. 28, with student-athletes in the sophomore and junior classes receiving training in self-assessing their own personality styles.