The University of Tulsa’s annual Leadership Experience was presented on Saturday, February 18. TULE is a yearly SA leadership workshop that traditionally consisted of guest speakers lecturing about leadership, but this year Executive Director of University Events Megan Skocdopole decided to break that tradition.
Skocdopole, along with her Associate Directors Catherine Aaronson, Logan Hibbs, Cassandra Meador and Stephanie Kealey, decided to redesign the event in hopes of not only attracting more students than just the required Greek Life and SA members but also providing an interactive experience that will leave students with leadership skills.
The theme of this year’s TULE was Disney’s “UP;” all of the activities and decorations eloquently captured the timeless charm of the loveable movie. The theme marks one major change from previous years. Each table had a different colored balloon attached to it, and students sat at the table with the balloon that matched the one on their name tag, effectively splitting them up from their friends.
“I wanted to do this so that everyone got the chance to work with someone they may not know,” Skocdopole explained. “It’s a small enough campus that most everybody is familiar with each other, but this way everyone can get the chance to really get to know people they may not otherwise talk to.” There, students got the chance to get acquainted with the other people at their table over doughnuts and coffee.
Mayor G.T. Bynum kicked off the workshop by speaking about leadership and what it it means to him. He relayed everything he had read about about leadership in the six months between when he was elected and when he was sworn in. He shared stories that ranged from Abraham Lincoln’s desire to unify the nation during his presidency to Bill Gate’s leadership discussion with Reid Hoffman over lunch and discussed what each story meant to him.
Next, each table participated in a variety of interactive activities that contributed to the overall theme, another aspect that was not present in previous years. For the first activity, each person chose twenty qualities from a list that described themselves and then slowly narrowed them down until there was only one remaining. This was meant to help each person decide the most important quality they have and what one quality they look for in a leader.
Each person got to fill out an “Adventure Book” to help others around them learn about times they were a leader. Finally, each table collectively chose three items they would keep in a floating house to help build teamwork skills.
After brief lunch, President Gerard Clancy took the stage to share his thoughts on being a leader. He discussed the steps needed to initiate change and achieve goals, and he talked about his ten year initiative to close the life expectancy gap between the different areas of Tulsa.
The workshop ended with one last activity, “Making a Connection.” During this activity, everyone closed their eyes while Skocdopole read off certain instructions like “connect with someone who you trust” or “connect with someone who works hard” or “connect with someone who is the Russell to your Carl.” Each round, a few selected students got the chance to walk around and pat the backs of people who inspired them in those ways. “This was definitely my favorite activity,” Skocdopole commented. “Seeing everyone connecting with the people that inspire them was truly touching.”
As to whether or not TULE was a success, freshman Ella Luttbeg has no doubt that it was. “I definitely enjoyed it,” she said. “It was really cool to get to work with new people and learn about their strengths as leaders. I can’t wait until next year!”