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Third Annual Leadership Management Institute Develops Managers’ Strengths

The Division of Student Success and Vice Provost Amber Williams kicked off the third annual Leadership Management Institute (LMI) this fall with 17 leaders from across Student Success and advising participating. The LMI cohort meets on the second Monday of each month to hear from executive leaders of Student Success and learn more about leadership, CliftonStrengths, and professional development skills.  

Vice Provost Williams initiated the Leadership Management Institute in fall 2021 after arriving at UT in the winter of 2020. The institute is meticulously crafted for directors, associate directors, and assistant directors upon their arrival at UT, with the aim of furnishing them the essential tools to enhance their management acumen, foster meaningful connections, and surmount challenges. This year, each participant received a copy of The Leadership Challenge: How to Make Extraordinary Things Happen in Organizations by Kouzes and Posner (2017). Previous cohorts read The First-time Manager by Belker, McCormick, and Topchik (2018). 

“It’s been a great opportunity to learn about my strengths and how do I adapt those to the leadership opportunities I have now and will have in the future,” Lisa Byrd, associate director of advising in the Tickle College of Engineering, said. “It’s great to work with colleagues all across different units to be able to learn together.”   

During the two-hour, monthly LMI sessions, a trio of chosen leaders collaboratively take the lead, guiding the group through a dynamic 45-minute presentation and skillfully summarizing the chapter readings from The Leadership Challenge. This interactive session also incorporates a CliftonStrengths-based activity and expertly facilitates a case study for robust discussion and analysis.   

The diverse topics during these sessions have included effective strategies for navigating challenging conversations, inspiring a shared vision amongst colleagues, and how to envision – and plan for – the future.  

Meredith Malburne-Wade, director of Undergraduate Research & Fellowships, has been able to see quickly how the Institute can apply to her work with her team, students, and strengths. “We have been doing some exciting readings and case studies that are immediately applicable about how we approach meetings, how we approach working with the people on our team, and how we approach laying out a vision for the future,” she said. 

Malburne-Wade joined URF in mid-July 2023 during a time when CliftonStrengths work had expanded across campus and was being implemented in the classroom. “It’s been a really good time to delve deeply into what we had started when I first came to UT, being able to see how I use my strengths as a leader, where I might need support from my team, and also ways that I can think creatively about my vision for where we’re headed.” 

The 2023-2024 cohort of the Leadership Management Institute is: 

  • Lindi Smedberg Barillaro, associate director of advising services for the College of Arts & Sciences 
  • Jackie Behrens, director of student services for the College of Nursing 
  • Lisa Byrd, associate director of advising for the Tickle College of Engineering 
  • Francis Canedo, director University Honors 
  • Stephanie Caplan, assistant director of First-Year Programs 
  • Amanda Gandy, director of student success and advising for the College of Social Work 
  • Donovan Johnson, assistant director of the UT Success Academy 
  • Richard Lee, director of strategic communications for Student Success 
  • Johnni Logue, associate director of New Student Orientation 
  • Meshelle Lowery, assistant director of Shared Services for Student Success 
  • Meredith Malburne-Wade, director of Undergraduate Research & Fellowships 
  • Katie McCay, executive director of Undergraduate Programs for the Haslam College of Business 
  • Jeremy Mobley, director of Academic Advising Initiatives 
  • Doug Porter, associate director of Strategic Initiatives for Student Success
  • Amber Rayborn, assistant director of advising and student success for the Herbert College of Agriculture
  • Brooke Squires, organizational culture manager for Student Success
  • Mary Beth Woodward, assistant director of the Center for Career Development & Academic Exploration