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Leading the way

College of Business celebrates new strategic leadership center
Mar 16, 2010
By Colleen Kiphart

On March 10 the College of Business celebrated the opening of the Robert D. Walter Center for Strategic Leadership. The name is pending approval by the Board of Trustees. 

The event drew members of the Ohio University Board of Trustees, CEO of Cardinal Health George Barrett and many more luminaries to honor Robert Walter?s contribution to the college and to discuss the principles of strategic leadership.

Walter, the founder of Cardinal Health and an Ohio University alumnus, was in attendance and later sat on a panel discussion. The creation of the center was made possible by a $2 million donation from Cardinal Health Foundation in honor of Walter after this retirement from the company.

The evening?s program of events began with a welcome and dedication by President Roderick J. McDavis and Dean of the College of Business Hugh Sherman.

McDavis honored Walter?s contribution toward expanding Ohio University?s mission of providing a singular educational experience for its students.

?In today?s economy, teaching our students the complex principles of strategic leadership will further this mission,? he said. ?If one of our students can leave Ohio University to be a leader like Bob Walter, or any of the other leaders in this room, we will know that we have achieved our mission.?

This introduction was followed by a retrospective on the basics, dimensions and advantages of strategic leadership by Duane Ireland, distinguished professor of management and the Foreman R. and Ruby S. Bennett Chair in Business at Texas A&M University.

Ireland, in his presentation, defined strategic leadership as, ?a person?s ability to anticipate, envision, be flexible and to think strategically. All of this is done with the purpose to work with others to initiate change and create a viable future for the organization.?

?Strategic leadership is a special type of leadership concerned with an entity?s purpose, strategy and capabilities,? Ireland continued.

Afterward, Ireland moderated a panel discussion, ?Leadership Challenges, Opportunities and Lessons,? which featured Walter, C. Robert Kidder, chairman of the Chrysler Group LLC and chair of the Ohio University Board of Trustees, and David Wilhelm, venture capitalist and former chairman of the Democratic National Committee.

The discussion was followed by a reception and dinner for the attendees. After the meal, Sherman addressed the audience with the college?s plans for the center.

?The purpose of the Robert D. Walter Center for Strategic Leadership is to provide the education and hands-on experiences to assist in developing a new generation of strategic leaders ? leaders who can identify new opportunities for the organization to create new or additional value and craft strategic plans to realize these opportunities,? he said.

Sherman said that the center will initially have three components: a select leadership program to accelerate leadership capabilities of high-potential College of Business students, an educational certificate program to develop strategic leadership skills for students from across the university, and a research center to advance our understanding of strategic leadership.

In his concluding remarks, McDavis illustrated the correlation between strategic leadership principles and the spirit and vision of Ohio University and Cardinal Health, noting how the company?s gift will help the university.

?Our vision is realized through our students, faculty, staff, alumni and friends,? he said. ?Our ability to educate tomorrow?s leaders and lift our university to even greater heights is now possible.?


Published: Mar 16, 2010 10:27 AM


Duane Ireland, distinguished professor of management and the Foreman R. and Ruby S. Bennett Chair in Business at Texas A&M University, speaks to the audience during a retrospective on the principles and dimensions of strategic leadership. 

Photographer: Kevin Riddell 

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