SU is leading community growth far beyond campus boundaries.
SU’s Executive Director for Economic Development William Burke and Director of SU’s Center for Extended and Lifelong Learning Mary Angela Baker recently graduated from the Leadership Maryland program.
After eight months of learning Maryland’s most vital social, economic and environmental issues, the pair is primed to use their acquired knowledge to benefit SU and the surrounding community.
“By getting involved with Leadership Maryland, you’re meeting with people from all different business sectors, all different types of leaderships, all different types of viewpoints,” said Burke. “And so you’re expanding your leadership position way beyond the area you lead.”
Burke and Baker were among 50 applicants selected who spent over half a year learning about the state of Maryland, the critical and unique issues it faces and successful solutions to these problems.
Burke expressed how the strong chemistry between the applicants created an exciting and productive learning experience.
“They all understood why they were there. They all had the right types of personality and attitudes, and they knew what the objective was. It ended up being a very exciting opportunity,” said Burke.
One of Leadership Maryland’s primary goals is to create opportunities for change and empowerment on a local community level, as well as broadening the perspectives of leaders to problems outside their geographical or occupational realm.
Burke and Baker were able to visit Baltimore with Leadership Maryland and observe various programs dedicated to providing opportunities for youths in Baltimore to stay on a positive track.
“In Baltimore, there are a number of issues in regards to youth going to school, completing school,” said Burke.
Leadership Maryland puts leaders in a position to not only observe problems, but discuss solutions among various positions of responsibility.
One program that Burke and Baker observed placed middle and high school students in proximity to educated professionals to show them the benefits of an education and a career.
“They’d start them doing some task or activity, and it helps reinforce the fact (idea?) that 'Hey, wouldn’t this job be easier if you had the education?'” said Burke.
The chance to exchange ideas with other types of leaders is invaluable experience.
Burke found that working with people in roles different than his here at SU opened his eyes to new possibilities.
“Typically, if you’re a leader of an organization or a department, or a campus, or a business or whatever, over time you end up getting a ‘supported view,’” said Burke. “You’re internalizing the view you see around your department, organization, etc.”
True to SU’s vision for a thriving community here on the Eastern Shore, Burke plans to employ his newfound perspective right away.
Among many, one of Burke’s future responsibilities will be the soon-to-open Center for Entrepreneurship in Downtown Salisbury. The center opens in spring 2020, and will provide a space for student entrepreneurs, local businesses and citizens to meet and collaborate.
“We’re not just representing students and the campus, but supporting various businesses in the community, supporting leadership in the community,” Burke said.
By KWAME MENSAH
Featured photo: Salisbury University's Office of Public Relations image.