New Clemson programs to build critical leadership capacity in U.S. parks
CLEMSON, South Carolina – The Clemson University Institute for Parks has developed a new Directors’ Leadership Academy to address pressing management needs in U.S. parks. Clemson faculty in the institute designed the academy to train current and future park leaders to meet challenges at the local, state and national park system levels.
Parks are facing increasingly complex challenges at a time when many park leaders are starting to plan for retirement. Bob Powell, director of the Institute for Parks, said park managers face issues every day on the job that can affect natural, cultural, historical and recreational resources — sometimes all at once. Powell says these leaders need a broad range of skills to be able to develop sustainable solutions.
“Learning to anticipate and approach challenges with a strategic and multidisciplinary focus strengthens leaders’ critical-thinking and decision-making skills,” Powell said. “When they complete one of our programs, they will return to their host park ready to apply approaches they’ve learned to challenges they’re currently facing and prepare for issues they are likely to face in the future.”
Inspired by the work of six former National Park Service and state park directors, programs offered by the academy will immerse participants in real-world challenges through service learning and case studies so that they can develop skills necessary for leading parks in the 21st century. The six former directors are:
- George Hartzog Jr., seventh NPS director (1964-1972)
- Ronald H. Walker, eighth NPS director (1973-1975)
- Gary E. Everhardt, ninth NPS director (1975-1977)
- Robert Stanton, 15th NPS director (1997-2001)
- Fran Mainella, 16th NPS director (2001-2006)
- Phil Gaines, retired South Carolina State Park director (2005-2018)
The academy’s first two programs will begin in late 2019. The Ronald H. Walker Park Leadership Development Program will begin in October and will blend case studies with online and seminar study led by experts as well as current and past business, government and park leaders.
The second program, the Gary E. Everhardt Park Break program, will be offered in partnership with the George Wright Society. It will provide graduate students from diverse backgrounds with direct and applied experiences in parks and is the only service, science and stewardship program that focuses on applied scientific inquiry in a National Park Service park.
“These two programs will focus on two pressing needs: expanding the capacity for leaders to identify, manage and resolve complex issues and developing diverse future leaders,” Powell said. “Our goal over time is to develop a full complement of training programs, each building on a visionary former park service director’s key strengths and applying those lessons to contemporary issues.”
For more information on the Directors’ Leadership Academy, the Ronald H. Walker Park Leadership Development Program and the Gary Everhardt Park Break Program, visit the Clemson University Institute for Parks’ home on the web.