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

Past, Present, and Future

The National Academy of Engineering (NAE) states that twenty-first century engineering education must integrate critical core competencies into the undergraduate curriculum in order to tackle the grand challenges of tomorrow — one of the critical competencies is leadership skills, knowledge, and attitudes/values. Engineers have to harness technical knowledge and creativity together, and craft solutions to complex grand challenges such as the innovation of clean, affordable, and reliable energy. Engineering education must offer students the best knowledge and tools available to do this. The Engineer of 2020: Visions of Engineering in the New Century (National Academies Press, 2004) states that engineers must rise to serve as business leaders as well as nonprofit and government leaders who are obligated guide policy decisions that are technologically intricate and demand leaders who understand the strengths and limitations of science and technology.

Engineers must understand the principles of leadership and be able to practice them in growing proportions as their careers advance. They must also be willing to acknowledge the significance and importance of public service and its place in society, stretching their traditional comfort zone and accepting the challenge of bridging public policy and technology well beyond the roles accepted in the past.

To address these pressing educational needs, several leadership curriculum initiatives are now under way at the UW-Madison College of Engineering. Our past, present, and future initiatives fall into several categories: theory, practices, and quantitative and qualitative data. The larger objective is: to design and offer an innovative, allied set of leadership development programs for undergraduates to acquire critical leadership skills, knowledge and attitudes/values. Please note that throughout this document the concept of a theory (a tool that allows us to explain the past or predict future outcomes) is being used interchangeably with the word model.


With the Pieper Family Foundation’s support we have established a past pattern of leadership program innovation. We have also built a comprehensive context for out innovation, a solid framework that keeps our main objective: to design and offer an innovative, allied set of leadership development programs for undergraduates to acquire critical leadership skills, knowledge and attitudes/values.

A Context for Leadership Curriculum Development

Two theories operate in concert to guide our leadership innovation. We believe that the Servant Leadership (Greenleaf, 1970) model is complimented by, and easily integrated with, the Social Change Model (SCM) (Komives and Wagner, 2009). We use these two models as the primary, overarching frameworks for curriculum innovation and enhancement. These models are compared in Table 1. The Servant Leadership model is critical to guiding the innovations at the College of Engineering. In Greenleaf’s classic essay “The Servant as Leader” he writes,

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. That person is sharply different from one who is leader first, perhaps because of the need to assuage an unusual power drive or to acquire material possessions. 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 person? 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?

There are many shared features between the Servant Leadership model and the Social Change Model. Both models define the actualized leader’s attitudes/actions as altruistic and meaningful leadership choices that are based on ethical values that strive to build community and create positive social change.

Table 1:
Comparing the Servant Leadership Model
with the Social Change Model (SCM)

Shared Features of Models Servant Leadership
Features of Models
Social Change Model (SCM)
Features of Models
Servant leadership is practical and meaningful. Leadership is purposeful.
    Leadership is process, not a position.
    Leadership can be learned.
  Leadership is collaborative.
Servant leadership is ethical.
1. Self-awareness
2. Listening
3. Changing the Pyramid
4. Developing your colleagues
5. Coaching, not controlling
6. Unleashing the energy and intelligence of others
7. Foresight
Leadership is values-based.
1. Consciousness
2. Congruence
3. Commitment
4. Collaboration
5. Common purpose
6. Controversy with civility
7. Citizenship
Building community Leadership results in positive social change.
  Resources: Spears & Lawrence, ed. Practicing Servant-Leadership Resource: Outcalt et al. A Leadership Approach for the New Millennium

We have found that combining the Servant Leadership model with the Social Change Model (SCM) is effective because:

  1. This model has been adopted by colleges and universities across the country, as it was created by faculty and student life educators at UCLA through a grant from the Dwight D. Eisenhower Leadership Development Program of the United States Department of Education.

  2. UW-Madison utilizes this model in existing campus programming, such as the campus Leadership Certificate and Student Leadership Program (SLP), which allows for marketing and cross-promotion of these programs and courses with other units and departments across campus.

  3. This model is also being used in other leadership courses at the UW outside of the College of Engineering, so in utilizing SCM, we are ensuring that the language and leadership premise we are using in the College of Engineering is consistent with the rest of campus, as not to confuse students since leadership can be difficult to define.

The nationally recognized body of knowledge found in the SCM provides sound theoretical grounding for our curriculum initiatives based on the premise that leadership can be learned, and that it is a process rather than a position, recognizing that everyone has the potential to be a leader. The goal of the SCM is to enhance student leadership development and learning in key content areas of individual, group and community values. The central principles of the SCM say leadership is “purposeful, collaborative, values-based” and “results in positive social change.” The ultimate goal of the SCM is that students will have increase capacity to mobilize self and others to facilitate positive social change at UW-Madison and beyond, thus creating better citizens and future leaders. The SCM focuses on seven core values needed to become a successful leader and effect positive social change. Our leadership curriculum initiatives integrate and address each of the seven values: Consciousness of self; Congruence; Commitment; Collaboration; Common purpose; Controversy with civility; and Citizenship.

Social Change Model — 7 C’s

  1. Consciousness of self means being aware of the beliefs, values, attitudes, and emotions that motivate one to take action.

  2. Congruence refers to thinking, feeling, and behaving with consistency, genuineness, authenticity, and honesty towards others. Congruent persons are those whose actions are consistent with their most deeply-held beliefs and convictions.

  3. Commitment is the psychic energy that motivates the individual to serve and that drives the collective effort. Commitment implies passion, intensity, and duration.

  4. Collaboration is to work with others in a common effort. It constitutes the cornerstone value of the group leadership effort because it empowers self and others through trust.

  5. Common purpose means to work with shared aims and values. It facilitates the group’s ability to engage in collective analysis of the issues at hand and the task to be undertaken.

  6. Controversy with civility recognizes two fundamental realities of any creative group effort: differences in viewpoint are inevitable, and that such difference must be aired openly but with civility.

  7. Citizenship is the process whereby the individual and the collaborative group become responsibly connected to the community and the society through the leadership development activity. To be a good citizen is to work for positive change on behalf of others and the community.

Practice and Data

With this sound theoretical foundation we were able to make great strides this year and accomplish many enhancements, new beginnings, and data collection/analysis. Below is a list of 2010 accomplishments.

2010 Accomplishments

  1. Benchmarking Survey

    1. EBI Benchmarking Survey

    2. EBI Benchmarking Leadership-Related Data

  2. Leadership Related Classes

    1. Further use of the Dean’s Leadership Class

      1. Per Social Change Model, which fits the Servant Leadership Model

      2. Offers students yet another step toward UW-Madison Leadership Certificate.

      3. Next year have Dick Pieper come and lecture to the Dean’s Leadership Class again.

    2. Civil and Environmental Engineering Leadership Class Reflections

      1. It is squarely rooted in servant-based leadership and quite successful so far.

    3. Two online courses developed and tested

      1. Leadership

      2. Sustainability

    4. Co-Curricular Professional Development Series

      1. Jointly offered by College of Engineering’s Diversity Affairs Office, Engineering Career Services, Student Leadership Center, and Engineering General Resources Office.

    5. Susan Piacenza’s Professional Orientation Class

    6. Sorenson’s free seminar on entrepreneurship and creativity offered as a one-credit course in Fall 2010 — InterEngineering 601: Process Innovation.

      1. It’s a different type of leadership, but something new. It was marketed directly to Innovation Days students (over 100 students), but open to all.

  3. College of Engineering Student Engagement through the Student Leadership Center

  4. Leadershape® Reflections

  5. Servant Leadership Seminar Reflections

  6. UW-Madison Leadership Certificate

    1. This is becoming more and more accessible through the programming listed. There is a direct emphasis on service throughout the certificate’s requirements.

  7. U.S. News and World Report: UW-Madison among top Fortune 500 CEO alma maters

  8. United Way Day of Caring 2010 Community Service Project

  9. Student Related Service

    1. Engineers Without Borders and Habitat for Humanity won campus-based leadership awards.

Future Directions

  1. Continue to organize annual College of Engineering-wide service projects.

  2. Host or co-host a student servant leadership conference or retreat at UW-Madison.

  3. Continue to send three exemplary student leaders each year to a national session of The Leadershape Institute® at the Allerton Conference Center in Champaign, IL.

  4. Send up to 15 students to the Greenleaf Servant Leadership Conference in Dallas in 2011.

  5. Offer a College of Engineering Leadership Workshop for students, faculty, and staff each semester.

  6. Explore implementing and sustaining a mentoring program.

  7. Work with Internship and Co-op organizations to promote Servant Leadership.

  8. Continue to refine online courses and offer Norm Doll’s leadership course.

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