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Notre Dame hosts ACC Leadership Symposium

| Thursday, February 26, 2015

The 2015 Atlantic Coast Conference (ACC) Student Leadership Symposium, an annual three-day seminar focused on strengthening the bonds between the 15 schools in the ACC, will take place Friday through Sunday at Notre Dame.

news graphicKeri O'Mara

This year’s theme, “Inspiring Inclusion, Creating Community, Launching Leaders,” implemented by symposium co-leads and seniors Stephanie Klotter and Juan Rangel, aims to unite ACC schools through activities and programs focused on promoting academics and athletic opportunities.

“The conference is a chance for five student leaders from all ACC schools to get together and discuss issues of social change that may affect the campuses of ACC universities,” Klotter said.

By promoting connections among student leaders from all the ACC schools, the symposium creates networks, Rangel said. The leadership training formation sessions specifically provide students with the necessary tools to implement programs for inclusion at their respective institutions.

“We thought the issue of inclusion would allow us to connect to issues that Notre Dame has been talking about, especially for the last four years that we’ve been here,” Rangel said. “It’s been a subject of controversy sometimes and just general discussions other times, and we know that we’re leading in some respects and also failing in others.”

The conference is also an opportunity to promote exchange of ideas and develop strategies to confront campus issues, an effort which Rangel said he hopes can occur as attendees learn from other schools and analyze proposals for change.

Student leaders will accomplish this through a variety of scheduled events, Klotter said.

“The conference consists of keynote speakers, workshops, community service trips, team projects and fun activities for the delegates coming,” Klotter said. “The conference concludes with each team project group presenting on an issue of inclusion and how it can be addressed on ACC campuses.”

Delegates will be randomly placed in groups upon arrival in order to discuss topics such as religion, sexual orientation, socioeconomic status and gender, Rangel said.

“Their task the entire weekend is developing a presentation that allows for them to discover what the obstacles are in contemporary times for their chosen groups as well as what are some possible strategies that they can [use to] confront those obstacles,” he said. “They’re not required to implement those strategies at their institution, but we hope that just by developing these ideas and seeing what all the other students come up with allows them to start brainstorming.”

Ninety individuals are scheduled to visit Notre Dame for this event, which Klotter said is a great opportunity for the University to show the ACC what Notre Dame has to offer.

“As newcomers to the conference, it is important for the University to form this relationship beyond the sporting fields, and this is a great first step,” she said. “… The work that is going to be done by the issues that are going to be addressed are ones that could spark conversations not only [for] those attending the conference, but also [for] other student leaders at Notre Dame.”

Two keynote speakers, comedian Amanda Seales and adjunct instructor of management Christopher Stevens, will address symposium attendees Friday and Sunday, respectively.

“[Stevens] really exemplifies leadership in every sense of the word,” Klotter said. “… Professor Stevens also has unbelievable past leadership experience through being on the Notre Dame basketball team, to founding Keurig, to investing in many different startup companies, to now teaching the management and MBA classes.”

Stevens exemplifies the values and spirit that Klotter said she hopes the delegates can employ to become inclusive and inspiring leaders. Overall, forming connections with other leaders is the goal for the attendees, Rangel said.

“I hope that the delegates are able to learn from the workshops, lectures and all the formal activities that we have planned for them, but also, informally, learn how to develop networks and relationships with other student leaders,” Rangel said.

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About Carolyn Hutyra

Carolyn Hutyra serves as an Assistant News Editor for The Observer. She is a senior from Arlington Heights, Illinois studying Biology and Anthropology.

Contact Carolyn