What started as a last-minute experiment in the Fall of 2020 turned into one of the largest certificate courses in Seton Hall University history.
Entitled LEAD 5000 Leading Yourself and taught by Dr. Bryan Price, Executive Director of the Buccino Leadership Institute, the course was a unique tuition-free, certificate-bearing opportunity offered to any member of the Seton Hall community.
The class attracted a mix of undergraduate and graduate students, adjunct and tenured faculty, department chairs and deans, and staff and administrators from every corner of the university.
And it was held on Fridays at 9am, not the most popular time for attracting a large university audience.
In August, Price said he was willing to teach the class even if only two students enrolled. But he didn't have that problem.
Instead, 304 signed up.
A Diverse and Eclectic Group
"I was blown away with the numbers," he said. "But I was also surprised at the diversity of those who enrolled. The age range must've spanned 60 years and other than the Chapel or basketball games, it was the only place I know at Seton Hall where students, faculty, staff, and administrators gathered each week as one."
That diversity was both an attraction for participants and a unique asset for the course. On the end-of-course survey, a faculty member from the College of Communication and the Arts said the concept of having such an open enrollment was the most meaningful element of the course.
"I don't know of any other certificate program that's offered to everyone across the entire university community. I appreciated the wide range of comments, questions, and insights from my classmates."
Jasey Perez, an undergraduate in the Stillman School of Business, wrote, "I really admired the diversity of people taking the course. I appreciated the people who had more experience than I do who were able to share their stories."
Course Content from Leading Yourself
The course incorporated a mix of content Price provides for students in the Buccino Leadership Institute, as well as and content based in performance psychology that Price uses to coach athletes and executive leaders in the mental game.
Topics included goal-setting, overcoming self-imposed limitations, crucible moments, imposter syndrome, values-based leadership, the power of self-talk, and how to perform under pressure -- with the power of self-talk and crucible moments considered the two most impactful classes.
Additionally, every participant was given the opportunity to take the Eq-i 2.0 Emotional Intelligence assessment at cost. For those who wanted to take the assessment but were under financial duress due to the pandemic, several participants generously offered to pay for their reports.
The response from course participants was a validation of sorts. "To be honest, I didn't know how this course would ultimately be received," Price said. "Friday mornings at 9am? Not the most ideal time to hold class at a university."
But the survey responses immediately put those concerns to bed.
"One of the surprises I had from the survey was how various classes spoke to different participants. I was half expecting some classes to fall flat, but all of them were well received," Price said.
Over 77% of participants said the course exceeded their expectations. Only one out of the 304 said it failed to meet their expectations.
Over 99% of participants said this course should be offered to everyone at Seton Hall University (with only one participant who answered "neither agree or disagree").
Moreover, 99.37% said they would recommend this course to others, including over 90% of respondents who would "strongly agree" to recommend this class to others.
In Price's words, "This course validated two things for me. First, no matter what position you hold at Seton Hall – student, staff, faculty member - there is a thirst and a demand for leadership development. Second, the combination of leadership and performance psychology absolutely works."
"The Buccino Leadership Institute succeeds in providing best-in-class leadership development to a small, competitively-selected group of undergraduate students," Price said.
"But with this course, I'm really proud that Janet Fenton and I were able to provide a meaningful experience for an audience that included SHU members from literally every corner of the university, from the library to Athletics to senior administrators."
What Participants Had to Say
• "This course was the most valuable professional development experience I have had at SHU." (Faculty member, School of Health and Medical Sciences)
• "I thought this course really helped me realize more about myself both personally and professionally. I now have a better understanding of how I can be more efficient in the workplace for myself and how I can be a more productive leader." (Staff member, Dept. of Athletics)
• "This course allowed me to look inward and address self-imposed limitations I did not realize I had." (Undergraduate, School of Education and Human Services)
• "This was a great class that helped me better self-assess the person I am and the person I want to become. I feel this course is something that should be made available to all incoming students and possibly even a requirement for those students. I try to teach some of this stuff in my class and it does wonders for their confidence, progress, and results in school." (Faculty member, Stillman School of Business)
• "I believe that everyone at SHU, faculty, staff, students (and the entire seminary) should take this course." (Faculty member, School of Theology)
• "Taking this class meant a lot to me. For a long time, I have been trying to improve my leadership skills and by taking this class, I feel more confident in myself." (Graduate student, College of Arts and Sciences)
• "This course was the highlight of my week. Not only did it normalize the struggles I have experienced but it also gave me tools and resources to become a better leader. I'm excited to apply what I've learned to both my professional and personal life." (Administrator, School of Health and Medical Sciences)
"When I created this course," Price said, "my intent was to give something back to the Seton Hall community during an unprecedented time of need. Due to our limited resources, the Buccino Leadership Institute is only able to service a small number of competitively-selected students."
(For context, the Institute only has resources to accommodate roughly 80 students per year, and the acceptance rate is approximately 15 percent.)
"But the feedback we've received from this course has been incredibly positive," Price concluded. "Have you ever heard of an optional early Friday morning class that is so well received, and one where 99% of the participants recommend it to others?"
"If the university is looking for an opportunity to carve out a competitive advantage in an increasingly competitive marketplace, this course is a demonstrated proof of concept that shows leadership development belongs at the top of that list."