After two years of refocusing its current areas of study toward leadership, Baker University is expanding that initiative with a new degree program set to launch next month.
The Master of Arts in Organization Leadership program, which will teach corporate responsibility and philanthropy, among other concepts, is part of the University’s Institute for Leadership & Positive Change. The institute was created in January to create an environment in which students can obtain skills for doing good in a corporate setting.
“We’re packaging it in a way that really will give our students an advantage,” said Patricia Long, president of Baker University. “We want them to go out and be leaders and be successful, so that’s what we’re preparing them for.”
The program will be 39 credit hours and is estimated to take 22 to 24 months to complete. It will be offered at the Overland Park campus starting in August, and may be available in Topeka, Wichita and online, depending on where interested students are located.
Courses in the program will be based on the five outlined tenets: philanthropy, sustainability, regulatory influences and governance, talent development and cause marketing.
Laura McKnight, former president and CEO of the Greater Kansas City Community Foundation, met with Long over coffee last fall to provide input on the program. She spoke with Long about the relevance of the five tenets in today’s workforce, and has conferred with leaders at local companies who recommended ideas for the program’s curriculum.
“When she started bringing her ideas to us, we combined what we had and said, ‘Oh yes, this is it,’” Long said. “There are so many great programs out there, but we think ours is the most comprehensive and holistic.”
McKnight’s background with the community foundation allowed her to identify commonalities among donors that caused them to be generous. She said she hopes these distinguishing features will be instilled in future students.
“The main goal is that students will gain an understanding of how doing good enriches not only their own life, but also enriches their ability to lead the companies and organizations they work for and the communities in which they live,” McKnight said. “Let’s focus on how to empower the giver.”
The new program is designed for working adults, with courses taken one at a time and classes attended one night per week. No more than 20 students will be enrolled in each class.
Long said she expected those who work with nonprofits to be interested in the program. However, she has also received inquiries from people in higher education, law enforcement and large corporations in the Kansas City and Lawrence area.
This past spring, Baker piloted a few of the courses to undergraduate and graduate students at its main campus. Long said these classes were focused on nonprofit leadership, governance and sustainability, and drew positive feedback.
“What we’re seeing is a lot of people interested in leadership and corporate responsibility,” Long said. “It’s just exciting to see who is interested in trying to make a change in the world.”
In the next few weeks, Baker faculty will continue to meet with companies in the area to make the final developments to the program’s curriculum.
For a full course list, admission requirements and information about the program’s areas of concentration, visit bakeru.edu.