When Laurens Mayor Nathan Senn asked two-time Lander University graduate Eric Delgado to serve as the city’s next administrator, it wasn’t Delgado’s first time in an important leadership role.
Upon his graduation in 2004, with a bachelor’s in history, he was commissioned a second lieutenant in the U.S. Army, and served as the information technology director at Camp Casey in Korea. Delgado was then sent to Fort Stewart, Ga., where he trained as the executive officer of a signal company that would be stationed in Iraq.
“Serving in the Army during a time of war presented me with unique opportunities for personal growth in leadership,” he said.
When his company arrived in Iraq, Delgado was promoted to the rank of captain. From there, he oversaw a military transition team that trained Iraqi forces and coordinated the provincial reconstruction of Babil, Iraq. “I’m proud that I returned all my soldiers safe to their families,” Delgado said, “and in that moment of time, my team left the province of Babil in better shape than when we inherited it.”
For Delgado, it was his experience in Iraq that first put him on a path to public administration. Delgado was only a sophomore at Lander on 9/11, and he remembers feeling an obligation to serve his country in response to the attacks he and his classmates witnessed that day. “Public service took on a new meaning for me,” he said.
To enhance his management and leadership skills in preparation for a career in public service, Delgado returned to Lander in pursuit of a Master of Science in Management (MSM), a degree he completed in 2021. Dr. Cherie Rains, assistant professor of marketing at Lander and assistant dean of the College of Graduate and Online Studies, identified Delgado’s passion for leadership in his approach to his studies in Lander’s MSM program.
“His ability to look at a situation or problem and analyze it in many different areas was a process I could see him develop over our master’s program,” said Rains. “He is one of the best communicators I have ever seen in a student. I was able to watch him grow throughout the program and he only became more adept at his management skills, which will no doubt continue in his current role.”
Delgado described his new career at the City of Laurens as “a dream come true.” Delgado says that strategic, comprehensive planning and teamwork are essential pieces in what he calls “the puzzle of success,” and he believes Laurens has all the pieces.
“My role is not only to keep the ball moving forward but to also work with the mayor and council, and the public, to ensure we grow responsibly,” Delgado said. “That requires research, planning, knowing what questions to ask, and to whom to ask those questions.”
Those skills were at the heart of Delgado’s graduate work at Lander University. After graduating from Lander a second time, it was the Master of Science in Management that made Delgado an ideal choice for his current job. Not only is the City of Laurens a large day-to-day operation, with multiple departments to oversee—an education in management is also invaluable as smaller cities like Laurens look towards public-private partnerships to foster economic growth.
According to Dr. Lloyd Willis, dean of Lander’s College of Graduate ad Online Studies, Delgado’s appointment as administrator for the City of Laurens shows just how versatile Lander’s Master of Science Management program is for leaders in the workplace and the world.“You don’t need to be a business major to pursue a business-oriented master’s program,” said Willis. “The principles our business faculty teach in our MSM program are relevant to leadership positions in a wide array of fields. No matter your career goals, a Lander University education will give you the training you need to get where you want to go.”