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Growing in My Leadership Skills, a Director’s Perspective

Lauri Dusselier, Director, Center for Health Education and Wellness

This fall, Student Life launched a new professional development initiative specifically for director-level staff. The inaugural Vice Chancellor’s Leadership Fellowship includes five cohort members: Melissa Brown, Office of Assessment and Strategic Initiatives; Jolyon Gray, Technology Services; Ashleigh Moyer, Center for Student Engagement; Anthony Prewitt, Multicultural Student Life; and Lauri Dusselier, Center for Health Education and Wellness.

Dusselier shares a first-person account of what participating in this new endeavor has meant for her leadership development.

It’s an honor to participate in the inaugural Vice Chancellor’s Leadership Fellowship. The fellowship is an educational leadership program designed to equip members of the Student Life Leadership Team with the knowledge and skills essential to our role as department heads and more broadly as part of campus leadership.

Each month from September through May we meet as a cohort with Vice Chancellor Frank Cuevas with meetings also co-facilitated by members of the Student Life Leadership Team. So far we’ve also received guest training with Amber Williams, vice provost for student success, on how to leverage our CliftonStrengths as leaders. Additionally, we’ve been coached on our personal brand by Tisha Benton, vice chancellor for communications.

Other components of the fellowship include five individual sessions of executive coaching, individual meetings with each member of the Student Life Executive Leadership Team, and two individual meetings with senior leaders external to Student Life.

My favorite aspects of the fellowship are the time spent with every person involved with it, plus the structured and intentional time to reflect on our leadership and learn from others. Our first sessions with the executive coach focused on our individual strengths related to leadership. It has been helpful to have individual coaching about my strengths from the lens of how they are beneficial in my leadership role and the possible impacts of my leadership style on others.

A book we are reading together as a cohort is providing a framework for five of our meetings. The book, One Piece of Paper: The Simple Approach to Powerful, Professional Leadership, by Mike Figliuolo (2011), uses a leadership maxims approach. Maxims are personally meaningful and easily explained statements that reflect our core beliefs about leadership. The book has four main sections that focus on leading self, leading the thinking, leading your people, and leading a balanced life.

When Cuevas introduced the book, he also provided his “one piece of paper” with his leadership maxims. One of the most compelling questions in the book that guides us to write our own maxims is “Why do you get out of bed every day?”

My response, just like my description of this fellowship, is the opportunity to do intentional, meaningful work alongside dedicated people. I look forward to sharing my one piece of paper with my leadership maxims at the end of the fellowship.


In addition to the Vice Chancellor’s Leadership Fellowship, several Student Life staff are involved in cohort-model programs at UT.

Chancellor’s Leadership Academy: Susannah Marshman, Assistant Vice Chancellor for Leadership and Campus Engagement

UT Inclusive Leadership Academy: Hope Adkins, Office of the Vice Chancellor for
Student Life; Todd Cox, Office of the Dean of Students; Natalie Frankel; Jones Center for Leadership and Service; Noelia Pacheco-Diaz, Office of Assessment and
Strategic Initiatives