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May 17, 2004

Leaders for Tomorrow

I've agreed to direct a new undergraduate program at the University of Maryland, starting next fall. It's called Leaders for Tomorrow. Participants will have access to funds to support their own travel, summer internships, and other activities relevant to their work. Everyone in the first batch of admitted LFT students has also received a full scholarship (including room and board) from some other source.

The goals of the program are to attract some of the nations best undergraduates, to prepare them to compete for prestigious national scholarships such as the Rhodes and Marshall, and to enhance a campus-wide student culture of scholarship, leadership, and service. I'm particularly interested in helping talented undergraduates to bring some coherence to their various activities inside and beyond the classroom. I'm all for breadth, yet I think our students would benefit from being more strategic and purposive.

If you attend an Ivy-size college (about 6,000 undergraduates), it needs an endowment of $276 million to generate $2,300 worth of special extracurricular programs for each student. My university is much bigger than that, but it has a much smaller endowment. However, we're earmarking something like $2,300 in cash to benefit each LFT student. I think you can make a pretty good case that Maryland (which has enormous shared assets) is a better place for these students to attend than some of the top colleges in America.

I'm imagining that most of the LFT students will work independently on extracurricular activities and courses, and we will convene regularly to discuss our separate experiences and to participate in special programs such as "field trips" and service opportunities. However, I'll be especially excited if the LFT students do projects together. I have all kinds of ideas (creating a venue for publishing student research, organizing after-school classes in the County schools, etc. etc.); but I'm hoping that the LFT students can generate ideas of their own. They will have four years ahead of them when they arrive in September, so I'll be patient and let them consider alternatives for a year, if necessary.

May 17, 2004 12:17 PM | category: none

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