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Leadership committee strengthens Organizational Studies program

A new alumni group has come together on campus with a mission of ensuring the old mantra “these will be the best years of your life” holds true for students enrolled in the Organizational Studies Program.

The Organizational Studies Leadership Committee will provide access to a diverse array of resources and services aimed at improving the quality of the program, and, most importantly, the experiences of students enrolled in it.

Leadership Committee members have much to offer because “they have developed real world experience,” says Richard Price, director of Organizational Studies. The track record of Leadership Committee members is impressive, including the president of Providence Hospital and Medical Center, a foundation president, a partner in a Los Angeles law firm, a political advocate and a CEO of a restaurant chain.

Members are, on average, younger than those of other alumni groups on campus. “These are younger people with more activist tendencies,” Price says. This activist spirit and success in the job market, along with enduring enthusiasm for maize and blue, may prove to be a winning combination for all parties involved, Price says.

The biggest winners are the students, Price says. "How much members want to give back is really very moving, frankly. It is not everywhere that this happens," he says.

The real world experiences of committee members will translate into a multitude of opportunities for the students, including internship and career prospects, and the creation of scholarship opportunities for students who otherwise would not be able to attend U-M, he says. "You can't live without that kind of stuff," Price says.

More than just money and connections are at stake. "Emerging student leaders here need role models," says Suzanne Jones, key administrator for Organizational Studies. "Our goal is to provide an intellectual home while they are here, as well as making it a place they will want to return to in the future," she says. The Leadership Committee is a big step towards fulfilling that goal.

The committee will enhance Organizational Studiesby providing assistance with fundraising and access to an extensive network of people in high places. These connections will allow the program to bring more speakers to campus.

Committee members will benefit from the experience as well, Jones and Price say. "They will have contact with a very special group of students who are interested in the world," Jones says. "The students are activists; they love to be involved and to create things," Price says.

Organizational Studies is an interdisciplinary program that combines courses from the social sciences, with a focus on sociology, psychology and economics.

"The program can be thought of in two ways," Price says. "First, in terms of the organizations and institutions that make up society, such as universities, churches and hospitals. Second, in terms of the process of organizing society, which is a more abstract level."

Students apply to the program, which is only open to juniors and seniors. Currently there are 90 students in the concentration.

"The students see their future career as being organizationally oriented. This includes areassuch as business, public health and philanthropy," Price says.

The Leadership Committee had its inaugural meeting Nov. 15 during an all-day event at the Michigan Union. David Barger, president and COO of JetBlue Airways, and a U-M alumnus, was the featured speaker. Barger, who is on the Leadership Committee, presented a talk entitled "Leadership in Turbulent Times."


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