After undergoing an external review, the Chidsey Center for Leadership Devel- opment is experiencing changes. While they will alter Chidsey’s structure, “the core elements of the center are still alive and well,” Stacey Riemer, Associate Dean of Civic Engagement and Leadership, assured.
Many offices at Davidson go through external reviews, and this past year it was Chidsey’s turn to be evaluated by an external board. The goal of the reivew was to recommend changes to the center that would make its programs stronger. One of the board’s main suggestions was to “listen to the students in the program,” Reimer said.
Cayce Blackley, Assistant Director of Chidsey, explained that the goal of the center is “to provide leadership opportunities for students across campus,” which it achieves through its three main programs: Leadership Davidson, Chidsey Fellows, and the Chidsey Leadership Lectures Series.
In the past, Chidsey Fellows has been a four- year program that develops leadership skills in 20 or so first-year students. However, it is undergo- ing perhaps the most changes of all the programs, the biggest of which is that it is no longer target- ing incoming freshmen. Additionally, while in the past, the program has held weekly meetings, planned a high school leadership conference, gone on retreats, hosted two speakers, and had some dinners together, most of this is changing.
According to Aditi Ghatlia ‘18, a leadership fellow, there will be “only one speaker this year, only one retreat, biweek- ly meetings, no more high school leadership conference planning, and no more Chidsey dinners.” In light of these changes, she said, “[the program] is becoming like a class or an extracurricular activity instead of a wholehearted commitment.”
Ghatlia suggests that this scaling back of Chid- sey Fellows might prove dangerous to the center itself. “There is definitely a danger in scaling back, because it is hard to bring [the program] back, but I hope that they do continue it.”
As of now, Chidsey has yet to decide whether it will target freshmen or sophomores for the Chidsey Fellows program. According to Chris Johnson, chair of the Chidsey Executive Board, this is in large part because of Chidsey’s added emphasis this year on inclusivity. In the past, Johnson said, “people viewed Chidsey in an elit- ist light.” Now, the center aims to “make it more inclusive to everybody.”
Johnson believes that eliminating the fresh- man year of the fellows program will make the center more inclusive and will also give fresh- men a chance to “understand the landscape [of Davidson], attend workshops and lectures, and consider if they want to be a part of a more ex- pansive program,” according to Johnson. Chidsey also plans to organize “more events that will be more open to the campus,” such as lectures and workshops.
Another notable change to Chidsey is the center’s disassociation with the Women’s Leadership Conference (WLC), an annual meeting on campus that “facilitates a dialogue about issues affecting women,” according
to its website. While the WLC still has advisors in Chidsey, it is transitioning into a chartered orga- nization with student activities. Its goal is to gain more access to funding and become more con- nected to the students, according to Nora Wartan ‘16, co-chair of the WLC, and Cayce Blackley, a WLC advisor.
In addition to its institutional changes, Chid- sey begins the school year without Julia Jones, the previous director of the center who left in May for personal reasons. Davidson is waiting to fill her position until the higher education hiring season in the spring.