Gergen advises emerging leaders
Jessica Patchett /Editor in
David Gergen, the first Isabella Cannon Distinguished
Visiting Professor of Leadership, taught more than 2,500
students and faculty in 10 class sessions during his two
weeks at Elon this Winter Term. Gergen’s reputation as
a professor, journalist and presidential advisor nearly
filled McCrary Theatre at his first lecture Jan. 5. His
following two lectures in the series “Lessons from
World Leaders” sold out days prior to the
George Troxler, dean of cultural and special programs,
estimates that nearly 50 percent of the audiences at each
lecture were Elon students, though neither the Department of
Cultural Programs nor the Elon Box Office tallied the exact
number of students requesting free tickets to the lectures.
Gergen also held two question-and-answer sessions, conducted
several classroom visits and met with Isabella Cannon
Leadership Fellows on two occasions.
“Having him come in has really given us some insight
from an outside perspective,’ said freshman Leadership
Fellow Ashley Bennett. Leadership fellows met with Gergen to
discuss the future of the students’ leadership at Elon.
As a sophomore, Bennett will again sit down with another
visiting professor and gain a new perspective on the art and
importance of modern leadership.
Junior Zach Pund is in his third year of the Isabella Cannon
Leadership Fellows program.
“A lot of what we do in the third year of the program
is about change,” he said. He said he remembered Gergen
focusing in both lectures and luncheons on the importance of
a leader’s ability to provoke change. “That
brought the whole third level of the program into
Gergen’s willingness to ‘engage students in a
comfortable but productive setting’ is one of the
greatest benefits of having a national leader such as Gergen
interact closely with students, according to Rex Waters,
director of the Isabella Cannon Leadership Fellows.
“[Isabella Cannon’s endowment for visiting
professors of leadership] has an impact on a more global
scale by having someone like David Gergen here,” Waters
said. The importance of finding a leader with larger
community and national appeal is a wonderful opportunity for
the University, he said.
“The endowment from Isabella Cannon will generate
enough resources to bring one Isabella Cannon Professor of
Leadership to campus each year,” said Nancy Midgette,
associate provost. Cannon left a $1.4 million grant for the
fellows program and the visiting professorship. Elon
officials could not release the exact expense of
Waters and leadership fellows will solicit names for the
next Isabella Cannon Visiting Professor of Leadership.
“Its good that we have the opportunity to bring in
other professors,’ said Bennett. ‘It can really
broaden the [Isabella Cannon Leadership Fellows]