Academic Feature: Leadership Studies Program

February 6, 2019 Ashlyn Schulle, Staff Writer

(Abilene, TX)–The Leadership Studies Program turned 25 years old this academic year, and its students celebrated in some big ways. The program serves to teach students how to be successful leaders through a variety of experiences both in and outside of the classroom. Dr. Coleman Patterson, Professor of Management and Leadership, is the director of the program.

The celebration kicked off in June 2018 with an eight-day, 300-mile bike ride across Missouri. Six days were spent on bikes, with most of the journey being on the Katy Trail. Six people, including Patterson, participated. “The bike ride projects give students an opportunity to work together to complete a real and complex task,” said Patterson. The rides are not offered for credit but are simply an opportunity for students to experience planning and partaking in a challenging activity, and have fun doing it.

In July, a group of 16 went to Vienna to study abroad for three weeks. It was the sixth time that Leadership students traveled to and studied in Vienna since 2008. Students took one of two Leadership classes while there: Great Leaders of History or Cross-Cultural Leadership. “Students lived in an international student dormitory and used the city of Vienna as their classroom,” said Patterson.

For the Fall 2018 semester, three classes were offered: Foundations of Leadership, Creating Profit and Non-Profit Ventures, and Presidents. Foundations is the first class Leadership students take, where they learn the history and principles of leadership and complete group service projects. This year’s Foundations students planned and executed three impressive projects. One group worked with Restore Church in Austin, pastored by a Leadership Studies alumnus, Zach Lambert, to help host a community Christmas party. They also served Community First Village for a day. A second group raised over $700 to help the pastor and his wife of Capitol Heights Baptist Church, who are members of the Missouri River Riders, host a Christian party for children from a nearby Cheyenne reservation. The party was officially put together by the Missouri River Riders, a Christian Motorcyclists Association, and took place at the church in Pierre, South Dakota. “Capitol Heights Baptist Church hosted us on our [bike] ride to Canada in 2017. That is how we met them – we knew that we wanted to do something to help them,” said Patterson. The third group raised over $500 to help HSU alumni, Jeff and Alicia Lee, buy a cow for a cow bank in their work with people in Macedonia.

The Creating Profit and Non-Profit Ventures students researched and made a proposal for a student-run plastics recycling company. Based on the Precious Plastics movement, students would use recycled plastic to create various products.

The Presidents class students researched and learned about the first four U.S. presidents of the Cold War: Truman, Eisenhower, Kennedy, and Johnson. Students were then tasked with each writing one chapter of a book about the presidents, which resulted in the compilation of a full book at the end of the semester. The 12 chapter topics ranged from Wars and Conflicts, to Presidential Preparation, to First Ladies, and Legacies. In addition to writing the book chapters, the group took 2 trips to see the presidential libraries and museums of Truman, Eisenhower, and Johnson, and the Sixth Floor Museum for Kennedy. The first trip was a 4-day long journey to Missouri, Kansas, and Oklahoma. The second was a weekend trip to Austin, Texas.

Over Christmas break, while most students were resting from the hectic fall semester, eight Leadership students (and Patterson) were cycling from Abilene to Quintana Beach, TX. It was their eighth long distance bike ride, done to honor the memory of Patterson’s nephew, Cooper Potts, who was killed in an ATV accident over Labor Day weekend. The original plan was to start in Hobbs, New Mexico but ice and winter weather caused them to alter their plans. The team met with churches and youth groups along the way. They also built a relationship with Centricity Music and the artists behind the song “Long Way Home” by Neon Feather. This song served as the ‘theme song’ of the journey. As part of their #LiveLifeLikeCooper message for the ride, Patterson said they “encouraged people to live big, full, adventurous lives, but to also remain focused on the promise of eternal life in Heaven.” Patterson summed up the experience by saying, “It was a wonderful ride and experience for all.”

There are three Leadership classes being offered this spring semester: Outdoor Leadership, Business Concepts for Leaders, and Seminar, the capstone class. This is the eighth edition of the Outdoor Leadership class, officially named “Developing Management Skills”. “Students will travel on weekend expeditions to HEB Foundation Camps and Camp Tejas as part of the class,” said Patterson. In the Business Concepts for Leaders class, students will be learning about important aspects of personal finance that they need to know starting now, and in the future also. Seminar is the Leadership’s capstone class, where mostly upperclassmen will reflect on and demonstrate all they have learned.

Outside of class this semester, the Model United Nations Club is going for the second time to the Florida Crisis Simulation Conference at the University of Florida in February. “After hosting their second Texas Crisis Simulation on the HSU campus in November, the team members are eager to participate with experienced teams at the FCS in Gainesville,” said Patterson.

To round out the year, Leadership students are preparing to explore the South in the second Civil Rights Movement travel course in mid-May, immediately after graduation. The first class in May 2017 was so successful that they will head back for more, visiting many of the major Civil Rights historical sites from Abilene to Atlanta, Georgia.

You can keep up with the Leadership Studies Program on Instagram (@hsu.ldsp), Facebook (, and their page on the HSU website.