Being Smart is Not Enough
ACES Leadership Academy
By Kim Kidwell
April 17, 2018

Creating opportunities for students to acquire essential life skills as part of their academic experience is key to developing career-ready graduates with the potential to achieve their ultimate personal and professional success. Students must have the essential content expertise to create advances and make discoveries in their specialties, as well as the essential interpersonal communication skills required to translate their knowledge and to engage effectively with others.

The ACES Leadership Academy (ALA) is a new initiative dedicated to building human leadership capacity within the college, campus, and community that is a component of the ACES With Illinois campaign. Through a variety of courses and developmental opportunities focused on personal and professional development, interpersonal communication, and leadership skills, the ALA will support undergraduate and graduate students, working professionals, faculty, staff, and alumni with improving their self-awareness and self-management skills, as well as with expanding their interpersonal, organizational, and community capacity. Acquiring these human capacity skills is essential for people who strive to realize their personal and professional potential.

The ALA will offer two new 8-week interpersonal communication courses for undergraduate and graduate students this fall that will take place during the second 8-week session: Personal and Social Effectiveness (ACES 199 and ACES 499). Both courses are focused on personal development skills for collaboration and team leadership in addressing complex challenges during and after their college experience.  

• ACES 199 (CRN 70602) is for freshmen, sophomores, and juniors

• ACES 499 (CRN 70603 and 70604) is for seniors and graduate students

These courses are designed to create opportunities for students to practice essential life skills in a safe setting that will support them with maximizing their personal and professional success. Being smart is not enough. People must be able to engage with others in a constructive fashion in order to maximize their influence. These courses involve high levels of engaged and group learning to support students with acquiring these skills. 

Creating the ACES Leadership Academy as a support opportunity for the ACES community and beyond is my passion. As the inaugural holder of the Robert A. Easter Chair, it’s my honor to help construct an opportunity like this that reflects Dr. Easter’s legacy of leadership in agriculture and at the University of Illinois. The ALA will be housed in the Office of Academic Programs. Faculty in our Ag Education, Ag Communications, and Ag Leadership programs will facilitate much of the initial programming. The development and delivery of these initial offerings are being funded through generous gifts from donors who believe in the importance of this work. I look forward to sharing more details with you as the vision unfolds.