Georgian Court University’s Dr. Joy Smith, far right, was one of GCU’s workshop facilitators for the 2020 Servant Leadership Summit.
Lead by Serving Others
When it comes to developing servant leaders, GCU President Joseph R. Marbach knows one thing is certain. “It’s important and fundamental to what we need in society. There’s a lot of change and uncertainty in the world we live in today.”
The university president’s comments came during a recent servant leadership summit hosted by the GCU Office of Student Affairs. The 2020 event marked the second year GCU has hosted such an event for college students from institutions across New Jersey.
“Treat others the way I would like to be treated,” Dr. Marbach said. “If that’s your guiding principle, you will be a servant leader—you’re putting others ahead of you. And there’s a second component I’d like you to remember,” he told the crowd.
“It means taking action when action is needed, and saying something or confronting individuals when you see something wrong,” he added. “Courage is a component of servant leadership. As you take an active role in making this a more just and compassionate world, I know the world is going to be a better place because of you.”
Servant Leadership Requires More
Summit attendees from various New Jersey colleges and universities listened attentively to keynote speaker Lee Rouson, a former running back who played for the New York Giants and Cleveland Browns from 1985 to 1992.
The North Carolina native, who also earned two Super Bowl rings, encouraged student leaders to “move the chains.”
“In order to lead, servant leaders must do things other leaders are not required to do,” he said. “Servant leaders go to a higher level than the crowd. We all want to be loved and accepted, but must recognize that servant leadership requires something different. Are you ready to work hard?”
GCU Dean of Students Amani Jennings reinforced the speaker’s point.
“Leadership on college campuses is not new, but here at GCU we focus on servant leadership because it reflects many things that are important—building community, being aware, and having empathy,” he said. “It is not leadership for the sake of itself. Servant leadership places itself above the needs of self, for the sake of others. GCU students understand that it’s important to consider this as a philosophy for living, for everyday life.”
“Part of servant leadership is recognizing what we’re good at what needs work so that we all can be better,” she said. “When you decide to serve, it’s not about ‘me, my, or I.’ It’s about our collective need.”Dr. Joy Smith, Director of EOF at Georgian Court University
The summit included workshops, group discussions, and several opportunities to put their understanding of servant leadership into action. In one session, Joy Smith, Ed.D., led students in a candid session on diversity and inclusion.
Dr. Smith, director of GCU’s Educational Opportunity Fund program, emphasized the need for servant leaders to step up on their various campuses. “Part of servant leadership is recognizing what we’re good at at what needs work so that we all can be better,” she said. “When you decide to serve, it’s not about ‘me, my, or I,’” Dr. Smith added. “It’s about our collective need.”
Summit attendees didn’t need to wait to return to class to take action on what they learned. A range of volunteer activities helped round out the daylong event.
The hands-on activities benefited a women’s shelter, police departments, local animal shelters, and area outreach organizations. Together, students leaders made, packaged, and delivered:
- 250 sandwiches,
- 100 inspiration rocks,
- 120 care packages,
- 100 stuffed bears and plush toys, and
- 75 dog toys.
“When it comes to volunteerism, we need to know it can come in different forms,” said Erin McCarron, assistant dean of students and director of student life. “From making peanut butter and jelly sandwiches for those in need to painting rocks with messages of inspiration, they’re all a form of service.”