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Leadership Education as Character Development – Best Practices from 21 Years of Helping Graduates Live Purposeful Lives


Presenter: Jon Craig Barch

Professional Title: Assistant Director of the Center for Student Enrichment; Student Leader Fellowship Program Director, Northern Michigan University 

Background Experience:  Among other responsibilities, Jon Barch is the lead coordinator for the Student Leader Fellowship Program (SLFP) for which he oversees all aspects of its implementation and assessment.  As an undergraduate student at NMU working on a BS in psychology, he was a student participant in the SLFP (1997-99). He went on to earn an MS in experimental psychology and is currently in the final stages of finishing his dissertation for a PhD in educational psychology from the Psychological and Quantitative Foundations of Education Department at the University of Iowa. He teaches a leadership theory and practice course to SLFP participants and has taught research methods (among several other courses) to both undergraduates and graduate students in the Department of Psychology at NMU.


The Student Leader Fellowship Program (SLFP) is a two-year, co-curricular leadership development program formed in 1991 with the goal of fostering citizen leadership in college students. This session will focus on the many ways students are challenged to explore their values and given opportunities to practice acting in accordance with those values. Time will also be spent reviewing program development, presenting assessment methods, sharing findings, and engaging the audience in discussions.

Session Experience: “I will provide an overview of the Student Leader Fellowship Program (SLFP)
including its purpose, main components, foundational theory and talk about how the program was started and how it has evolved over the past 21 years. I will share several examples of how we help students explore the ethic of social responsibility, discover their personal values, and develop their leadership by acting congruently with their passions/beliefs and encouraging others to get involved. In an effort to engage the session participants in as much discussion as possible, I will share some brief video testimonials from program graduates. One point of productivity I hope to spend some extra time on is the importance of strong mixed methods assessment strategies.”

Extending the Experience: After the session, participants will . . . “have an open invitation for further communication about the SLFP.  I will make all programmatic materials available to those who want them (promotional items, surveys/inventories, application, syllabi, purpose/goal statements, etc…).  I will propose and welcome some new ideas to initiate collaboration between my students and students from other university leadership programs.”


This website serves as a newsletter for the program with stories updated monthly and sometimes weekly. There is a 5-minute promo video linked to the website.  It also details the program components, staff, application info, tons of photos, etc.