Banner images: View of Engineering Hall and Maquina fountain from the north, The University of Cape Town hosted the LeaderShape Institute in 2008, Civil and environmental engineering students Jonathan Blanchard, Kevin Orner and David Tengler receive a plaque from five communities in Ecuador that will benefit from a new water pipeline the students implemented in June 2009, Kelvin Redd led a four-hour workshop about the Servant Leadership philosophy in November 2010 for students and staff. Faculty, staff, and students helped restore five new acres of prairie and plant rain gardens at the 2010 Day of Caring, United Way of Dane County, Wisconsin. Four students two faculty attended the Annual Greenleaf Servant Leadership Conference in Atlanta. The goal for 2011 is to send as many as 15 students.

Suzanne & Richard Pieper Family Foundation Endowed Chair for Servant Leadership

Mission of Servant Leadership Chair

The Servant Leadership Chair helps prepare future leaders in their chosen fields to live lives of service to others by teaching and exemplifying character and moral values. Their examples and actions lift up society, enrich organizations and communities, and have a positive effect on the least privileged.

The Servant Leadership Chair at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, Professor of Civil and Environmental Engineering Gregory W. Harrington, works to develop a culture of leadership in the student community.


  1. Graduates will be known for their moral values.

  2. Graduates will enrich and lead by serving their community and profession.

  3. Graduates will apply their moral values in both their professional and personal lives.

  4. Graduates, according to their moral values, will serve those who are the least privileged among us.

Basic Philosophy

We believe in the fundamental good of humankind and see it everywhere in cultures and nations around the world. Human goodness is not simply innate; it requires action; it requires service to others. Character is inspired and facilitated in cultures, organizations, and families by and through the example of enlightened leadership.

Robert Greenleaf, who spent a lifetime searching out effective organization and leadership, described the process this way:

“The servant-leader is servant first... It begins with the natural feeling that one wants to serve, to serve first. Then conscious choice brings one to aspire to lead. The difference manifests itself in the care taken by the servant — first to make sure that other people's highest priority needs are being served. The best test, and difficult to administer, is: do those served grow as persons; do they while being served, become healthier, wiser, freer, more autonomous, more likely themselves to become servants? And, what is the effect on the least privileged in society; will they benefit, or at least, not be further deprived?

As we serve each other our common moral capital grows. It has been my own experience that serving food in food lines is more satisfying than receiving it. Special things happen when we nurture others — give them all we have, with no expectations in return, and encourage those to receive with no obligation. As the Herman Hesse noted, “Character is enlightened by true service.”

The moral value of serving others, and especially the least privileged, is not merely a subject for study, but rather a way of life that brings together our professional, community, and family life. When principles and moral values are as effective in one's personal life as in one's business life, then extraordinary things happen that increase the capacity of humankind and our commitment to a greater good.

Our basic responsibilities are not changed by our particular circumstance. We all inhabit the same moral dimension. But what can change is the method with which we pursue the execution of those responsibilities. Passion and wisdom can be dramatically influenced by service. Those who serve others are profoundly enlightened by their experience. When moral values are acted upon, they transform the decision-making so that it serves the greater good and the enlightenment and enrichment of the individual. This continuous fabric of moral leadership then builds character and perpetuates itself, and permeates the group or company and society.

The values of servant leadership do not depend on a specific religion or ideology.

Responsibilities of the Servant Leader Chair

To deepen and further the ideas, values, and implementation of the servant leader, the chair will do the following:

  • By example, enhance student's service learning.

  • Create a body of knowledge and/or a curriculum that shows how character is learned and transmitted that further extends the values and better understands the outcomes of servant leadership. This body of knowledge should underline the universal aspects of moral values.

  • Engage the service-learning model developed at the university to promote character building in schools K-12.

  • Create a dynamic environment to nurture future leaders at the university.