Ten Complete Inaugural SULead Professional Development Leadership Program – Monday August 14, 2023

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SALISBURY, MD—When many people picture a university, a lecture hall or athletics complex usually is the first image that springs to mind.

But that’s just the beginning.

In reality, most universities resemble small cities, with hundreds of employees performing roles from academic instruction to information technology, maintenance and groundskeeping to food service and transportation, and a host of other jobs in between. With more than 7,500 students and employees, Salisbury University is no exception.

With a goal of creating a pipeline of diverse leaders within the institution, SU President Carolyn Ringer Lepre last semester inaugurated the SULead program, a professional development initiative to foster engagement of talented, emerging staff with leadership potential by providing them with a well-rounded view of what goes into running the campus, as well as mentorship from area leaders.

Ten SU staff members, representing a diverse cross section of campus, comprised the first cohort: Lacie Doyle, advising services coordinator in the Academic Advising Office; Jennifer Ellis, curriculum and academic specialist in the Academic Affairs Office; Cynthia Funkhouser, executive administrative assistant in the Charles R. and Martha N. Fulton School of Liberal Arts; Alexia Rawlings, academic program specialist at the Institute for Public Affairs and Civic Engagement; Rachael Faust, recycling coordinator in the Facilities Services Office; Colin Watson, support associate in the Information Technology Department; Jeff Westphal, University Police officer; Erin Smith, assistant director of alumni engagement in the Alumni Relations Office; Dawn Keter, training coordinator and counselor in the Counseling Center; and Mario Ramirez, office clerk in the Conference Services Office.

“I really appreciated the self-reflection sessions, particularly the ethics study and the leadership session … [which] gave me an opportunity to reflect on what I believe to be true about myself … and to understand my leadership styles, beliefs and core values,” said Ellis.

“It was energizing and renewing to have the opportunity for engaging discussions while constantly learning from the extraordinary people who were part of this cohort,” said Keter. “I was able to use this experience and time to begin the process of further developing my individual professional goals, aspirations and plans.”

“It was an honor to be a part of the first cohort – a truly awesome experience!” said Smith. “I sincerely appreciate all the time and effort put into creating such an engaging and constructive learning environment.”

Each Friday throughout the spring semester, cohort members learned about each of SU’s divisions from members of the President’s Cabinet and interacted with other leaders on and off campus, including Lepre, Maryland Governor Wes Moore, Salisbury Mayor Jack Heath, Greater Salisbury Committee President and CEO Mike Dunn; area business officials; and members of the University’s shared governance organizations.

In addition to gaining a better understanding of the innerworkings of SU, they also networked and built relationships across campus and beyond, learning about the challenges and opportunities facing higher education and participating in self-assessment activities to leverage their unique strengths for personal and professional success.

In their capstone project, participants engaged in group presentations on improving employee recognition and expanding SU’s culture of belonging on campus.

Applications for the next SULead cohort, scheduled this fall, are being accepted through Friday, August 25. To apply, or for more information, visit

Learn more about SU and opportunities to Make Tomorrow Yours at the SU website.

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