Cultivating Leadership: Dr. Wright Completes Mason’s Leadership Legacy Program

by Dept. of Communication

Cultivating Leadership: Dr. Wright Completes Mason’s Leadership Legacy Program

In the ever-evolving landscape of higher education, effective leadership is crucial for fostering innovation, creating change, and nurturing the next generation of students.  Fourteen years ago, Mason began a faculty development program designed to cultivate leadership skills among employees.  On Friday, April 19, 2024, Dr. Catherine Wright completed the 9-month-long program with her cohort of 29 others from across the University.  

The Leadership Legacy Program is designed to empower faculty members with the tools, knowledge, and mindset to excel not only in their academic pursuits but also in leadership roles within their respective departments.  It is a partnership program sponsored by MasonLeads and HR.  

As the Leadership Legacy website states, participants learn “Key concepts, such as strengths-based leadership and facilitating change, [which] are overlaid with practical topics (budgeting, consensus building, responding to crises, etc.). The design of the curriculum is developmental with each topic/seminar building upon the other.”  Through a combination of workshops, seminars, coaching sessions, and mentorship programs, participants are equipped with essential leadership competencies such as effective communication, strategic decision-making, conflict resolution, and team building.  Wright stated, “I found the coaching offered by an outside career coach to be one of the best parts of the program.  Not only did Tracie understand higher education, but she was able to quickly help me identify some best practices for the work I do in the Department of Communication.” 

One of the most important goals of the program is “to increase the number of faculty and staff prepared to assume leadership responsibilities (formal and informal) at all levels of the institution.” The program emphasizes the importance of adaptive leadership and participants are encouraged to embrace innovation, integrate diversity, and promote inclusivity in their leadership approach.

Ultimately, the impact of the Leadership Legacy Program extends far beyond individual participants. Wright said she found interacting with colleagues from around the University rewarding.  “We are all doing different things, whether it’s working with students, for the Police Department, or in a non-academic department.  Despite our different roles, we all faced similar issues and had the same desire to become better stewards in the workplace.”

In an era defined by rapid change and unprecedented challenges, investing in leadership development for faculty is not just an option, but a strategic imperative for George Mason University as it is committed to success at all levels.  By training a cohort of visionary leaders, Mason can cultivate a vibrant intellectual community, continue with institutional excellence, and ultimately shape the future of students who attend Mason.