M.L.A. lecture series focuses on leadership

After the fact, national and international leaders are often judged on one thing — their success. University College in Arts & Sciences’ 24th Annual Master of Liberal Arts (M.L.A.) Lecture Series will focus on “Leadership Successes and Failures” on Saturdays in February.

Although the topic wasn’t chosen as a direct reflection of any current political situation, University College Dean Robert E. Wiltenburg, Ph.D., said a number of timely factors went into choosing the subject matter.

“It wasn’t meant as a partisan thing,” he said, “but I think we were influenced both by the presidential election and debates, and by the University’s commitment to the Kauffman initiative on ‘entrepreneurship’ — which we translate to ‘leadership’ for a wider audience.

“I think the entire topic has been given currency by the evident importance of leadership in so many areas getting attention these days: business, politics, diplomatic and military affairs — and in academic life, in which we aim to train students, both graduate and undergraduate, to be leaders in their fields and professions and as citizens in their communities.”

Senior University faculty from the fields of business, history, political science and psychology will examine the many factors of character, circumstance and choice that have made for happy and unhappy outcomes in political and business life and on critical public and private occasions.

“Given the people who are speaking and the range of their interests, I’d say that those attending the series will get knowledgeable and vigorous explorations of many aspects of an exceptionally complex, variable and fascinating topic,” Wiltenburg said.

All lectures will be held from 11 a.m.-12:30 p.m. on Saturdays in McDonnell Hall, Goldfarb Auditorium, which is handicapped-accessible.

The lecture series schedule:

  • Feb. 5: “Maintaining Equilibrium in Times of Stress: The Role of Emotional Intelligence,” with Randy Larsen, Ph.D., the William R. Stuckenberg Professor of Human Values and Moral Development and chair of Department of Psychology in Arts & Sciences;
  • Feb. 12: “Lincoln and Leadership,” Iver Bernstein, Ph.D., professor of American Culture Studies and of history, both in Arts & Sciences;
  • Feb. 19: “Leading Organizational Change,” Jackson Nickerson, Ph.D., associate professor of organization and strategy in the Olin School of Business; and
  • Feb. 26: “Leading the Supreme Court: The Legacy of Chief Justice Rehnquist,” Lee Epstein, Ph.D., the Edward Mallinckrodt Distinguished University Professor of Political Science and professor of law.

“Effective and ineffective leadership comes in many forms, and it’s my feeling that too often we tend to flatten that out into a stereotype or two,” Wiltenburg said.

“This series should open up all the interesting questions in a stimulating way — which is what the M.L.A. Program has always been about.”

The lecture series is sponsored by the M.L.A. Program and University College. The lectures are free and open to the public, and no registration is required.