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Campus-Wide Student Leadership Roles - Overview

Page history last edited by Robert Hackett 4 years, 6 months ago

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Campus-Wide Student Leadership

Overview  |  Guides  |  Campus Examples  |  Documents to Download


The Bonner Program is built upon the belief in student leadership and voice as critical and central to the program, broader student and campus engagement, and building a sustained and culture infrastructure for engagement. Indeed, this belief is supported by twenty-five years of experience and practice across multiple institutions. To the Bonner Foundation and Program, student leadership has been a common expectation and practice.


The centrality of student leadership is represented in literature and scholarship about students’ roles, as well, in such works as Battistoni and Longo’s (2011) “Students as Colleagues” (in To Serve a Larger Purpose), a phrase also used by the national Campus Compact in some of its reports. The centrality of student leadership and voice, however, has been eclipsed at times in the institutionalization of civic engagement and service-learning (Liu, 1995). In fact, the scholarship in this area may not be  representative of the practice. Programs and centers, like that of Berea College (home of the first Bonner Program) have embedded student leadership into the fabric of center and institutional practice through models like the "Cascading Leadership Structure" (Cochrane & Schill, 2013).


As a Bonner Director or Coordinator and team, you will want to think intentionally about how to build student leadership across not only your Bonner Program, but also across other clubs, organizations, student government, and academic pathways for community engagement.


Best practices in supporting campus-wide student leadership roles include:


  • Building a foundation of diverse student leaders from different campus sources (i.e. service programs, greek life, athletic teams, etc.).
  • Using small net and large net approaches to recruiting and encouraging student leaders. In other words, make direct one-on-one asks of students, as well as provide open space for inquiries and ideas.
  • Building a training calendar with relevant sessions to support and challenge these student leaders.
  • Trusting in the students' abilities to lead initiatives. Providing guidance is excellent, but allow for student ownership and autonomy as well.