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Lander’s Kauffmann Leadership Institute Holds Graduation Ceremony

A ceremony was held May 11 to honor the graduates of the Kauffmann Leadership Institute at Lander University and the program’s leaders. From left are Sherri Baldwin, Brittany Tims, Kayla Davis, Melody Jacks, Matthew Gilstrap, Jamie Wilson, Nykeevious Neal, the Rev. Douglas Kauffman, Graham Duncan, Cheryl Lewis, Zachary Kennedy, Hendrik Booraem and Rick Vipperman.  Photo by Deb Crenshaw-Nygro

“If you plan to face tomorrow, do it soon.”

The Rev. Douglas Kauffmann used these words from a song by the late singer Gordon Lightfoot to encourage the graduates of the 2023 Kauffman Leadership Institute in their work at Lander University.

Kauffman, who founded the institute at Lander with his wife, Sally, a 1975 Lander graduate, said he is pleased with the training programs offered through the institute. To date, 47 Lander employees in four graduating classes have graduated from the institute, led by LeadAdvantage of Charlotte, N.C. 

The institute’s focus on leadership excellence is enhanced by the variety of classes offered on topics including ethics, conflict navigation and team building, for example, as well as individual coaching sessions, he said.

Nykeevious Neal, utilities supervisor at Lander’s Physical Plant, said he was honored to be selected for the  leadership institute. “The lessons from the institute will help me in my current role as a supervisor and also help me in the future as I continue to develop and grow with Lander.”

Neal said, “I enjoyed seeing my co-workers in a different light. Usually, I'm always on the go helping set up or take down for events and making sure everyone has what they need. It was nice to be in an atmosphere where I was learning new things not only about myself but people that I work with as well.”

Cheryl Lewis, benefits manager for Lander’s Office of Human Resources, said the leadership program was interactive. “Our group bonded, and we learned together.”

Although her job puts her in touch with many of the participants in the program, “It was a joy to interact with them and learn from their views,” she said.

The Kauffmann Leadership Institute is made possible through the vision of Lander President Richard Cosentino to provide University employees with valuable leadership training opportunities.

The purpose of the institute is to identify current strengths and areas of opportunity with the Lander University team through assessments, workshops and one-on-one coaching to enhance individual development and create an environment of increased communication and collaboration for greater internal and external success.

Sherry Baldwin, the founder of LeadAdvantage, said the program helps those “who want to have a great impact get there.”

Leaders know and when to have fun and laugh at themselves, she said, while striving to have an impact on their careers and community through serious conversations and decisions.

The 2023 graduates of the institute are Hendrik Booraem, student technology coordinator, Information Technology Services; Kayla Davis, administrative assistant, College of Business; Graham Duncan, project coordinator, University Relations; Matthew Gilstrap, executive director, Office of Student Life & Engagement; Melody Jacks, coordinator of course articulation & transfer, Registrar’s Office; Zachary Kennedy, procurement specialist, Procurement Services; Cheryl Lewis, benefits manager, Office of Human Resources; Nykeevious Neal, utilities supervisor, Physical Plant; Tanner Stone, computer repair coordinator, Information Technology Services, and Jamie Wilson, associate athletic director of student athlete success, Athletics.