Thomas F. Chapman Leadership Scholars in the business of leading by doing
“Best is the Standard” is the mantra most associate with Clemson’s national championship football program, but it rings true in the College of Business also.
Being held accountable and to a higher standard have been hallmarks of the business school’s Thomas F. Chapman Leadership Scholars Program, established in 2009 by Thomas F. Chapman ’65, retired Chairman of the Board and CEO of Equifax, Inc.
“The Thomas F. Chapman Leadership Scholars Program represents the best part of the future of business education at Clemson,” said Dean Bobby McCormick. “Our business school is dedicated to providing an enriched learning experience that is essential to personal success after school.
“Tom and Karen Chapman’s personal involvement with students is a source of pride and inspiration to students and is a testimony to the kind of learning environment we provide. Business students learn not only “how” to run businesses, but “why” business is so important to our culture and society,” McCormick said.
Each year, the College of Business welcomes 10 carefully vetted Chapman Leadership Scholars into its exclusive fold from a pool that regularly exceeds 100 applicants. Students apply for the program their freshman year when they are screened and interviewed to determine their leadership potential, which is a requisite. The three-year program begins during their sophomore year.
Leadership traits and skills are developed through a variety of experiences and activities students are required to engage in, including service projects, leadership lessons and theories, discussions of selected readings and situations related to leadership knowledge, courage, ethics, and heart. Each year, the curriculum focuses on traits exhibited by The Wizard of Oz characters — the scarecrow, lion and tin man.
In the first year, Scholars develop knowledge about leadership theories and applications. The second year focuses on courage and ethics in decision-making and actions. While Scholars work on individual service projects for which they are passionate in the third year, the program encourages Scholars to make a difference through service to the community throughout the three years and after graduation.
Mary Anne Raymond, director of the Chapman Scholars program said the Chapmans and other business leaders take an active role in the program.
“Chapman Scholars students participate in discussions and panels and interact with leaders from various fields, including Tom and Karen Chapman,” Raymond said. “Both Tom and Karen, who was also an Equifax executive, mentor the scholars throughout the three-year program and after graduation.”
The leadership lessons scholars learn through the program gives them the tools they need for lifelong success.
“The Chapman Leadership Scholars Program teaches many life skills, including expectations and accountability, things that will be expected of them in life after Clemson,” said Charleen Fitzgerald ’97, the program’s student services coordinator who meets with hundreds of students across different majors each semester. “The life skills they leave here with give them a leg up on their counterparts in the real world.”
Schuyler Easterling ’15 says he grew personally and professionally through the Chapman program.
“The Chapman Scholars program was life changing for me. I came into it as a wide-eyed sophomore raw with leadership potential and finished as a young man with a strong foundation of leading others and believing in myself. It’s helped me tremendously in my professional life,” Schuyler said.
There are so many benefits of the Chapman Leadership program according to senior marketing and political science major, Emily Clarke.
“You meet and work closely with some of the most amazing leaders on campus, who will inevitably make you a stronger and smarter leader,” she said. “The Chapman Leadership Scholars Program, without question, has made me a better student, leader and citizen.”
Not only are students schooled on leadership, they are expected to live it by taking on leadership roles on campus.
One of Emily’s forays into leadership was membership vice president for her sorority in her first year of the program.
“I struggled with how to be an effective leader in that role, which isn’t always a well-liked person in the sorority,” Emily said. “I was able to bounce my leadership concerns off others in the Chapman Leadership program to help figure out how to fix the problems. I was able to improve so much as a leader and gained so much confidence as a result of their help that the following year I ran for president of the sorority and won.”
Scholars’ individual community service projects range from volunteering time with veterans and patients in pediatric units to working with special needs students as well as local food banks and centers to help educate and train adults.
In December, the Chapman Leadership Scholars hosted Christmas for Kids, an event where they recruited 200 Clemson University students to assist, then organized activities, and handed out gifts for over 100 underprivileged children from area elementary schools, who may not have experienced Christmas without the Leadership Scholars.
Emily, in her third year as a Chapman Leadership scholar, said everything the program offers has made her a better leader and when she joins the more than 50 Chapman Leadership graduates already in the workforce, it will be as a better leader.
“Having been held accountable and to a higher standard have helped me develop into a more consistent leader with the people who follow me. I’ve learned that to earn trust I have to do the things I say I will, and that I must do the things I expect everyone else to do.”
Destinee Wilson ’16 says qualities she acquired as a Chapman Leadership Scholar are helping in her everyday life today.
“The program has helped me with things as basic as learning to be patient, having the stamina to deal with stress and the openness to hear others’ perspectives,” she said. “I also learned not to be afraid of working around other leaders because so many valuable lessons can be learned from them.”
For more information on the Thomas F. Chapman Leadership Scholars Program, contact Fitzgerald at firstname.lastname@example.org , or visit the Thomas F. Chapman Leadership Scholars website at https://www.clemson.edu/business/current-students/leadership/chapman/index.html.
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