Ed Schafer led class at UND, NDSU to help students cultivate leadership skills
Despite teaching a leadership course, interim UND President Ed Schafer said he doesn't believe leadership can be taught. Instead, in a class he led for UND and North Dakota State University students this semester, Schafer tried to lead his pupils...
Despite teaching a leadership course, interim UND President Ed Schafer said he doesn't believe leadership can be taught.
Instead, in a class he led for UND and North Dakota State University students this semester, Schafer tried to lead his pupils to finding the qualities of a leader within themselves.
"It isn't telling them what to do, it's showing them they have the capability to be a leader," he said.
Leadership and our Food System was taught to about eight UND students and a dozen at NDSU via video teleconference. Schafer also traveled between campuses to teach in person at both.
The former North Dakota governor taught a similar class at NDSU as an adjunct professor during the 2014-15 school year.
It's not common to have a single class offering at both schools, but it's even more rare for a sitting university president to teach it. However, Schafer said he was upfront about wanting to continue teaching when he agreed to be a candidate for interim president.
"I love being with kids," he said. "They're energetic and energizing."
Schafer served as governor from 1992 to 2000 and was the U.S. Secretary of Agriculture under George W. Bush. He said he has been able to use his experience to teach the class, pointing to a visit he made to a New Orleans USDA research lab in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina.
"I could bring that to bear in the classroom," Schafer said.
North Dakota University System Chancellor Mark Hagerott said the class was a great example of collaboration between universities in the state, something he has pushed for since taking the job last year.
"People were doing it before, but I'm convinced we need to think more along those lines from shared services to courses that might be offered in two different places," he said.
NDSU President Dean Bresciani lectured during one class, but Schafer said collaboration wasn't his primary objective.
"I think the chancellor thought when I first approached the class this is an example of collaboration between the two schools, but I don't' know. I just kind of thought it would be nifty to teach the class in both places," he said.
Schafer was assisted by NDSU professor David Roberts and UND professor and political science Chairman Paul Sum, who said he assisted with the syllabus and other technicalities of instructing.
"Ed Schafer is more than interim university president," Sum said. "Ed Schafer is a former governor. Ed Schafer is a former head of the USDA. He has an illustrious career in business, so for my particular interests, it was a great opportunity."
UND and NDSU also offer a joint history program, according to the universities' websites.
Schafer said he plans to continue teaching leadership classes in the future at NDSU, though he's unsure about the future of the class at UND.
"People want to imitate and follow," he said. "They watch you, hear you and emulate you, so the strongest piece of leadership advice you can give is to lead by example and that's a lot of what this class focused on."