Mar 312005
Authors: Cari Merrill

Meeting with the president of a major university is a rare event for most students.

But a select group received the opportunity Wednesday night.

The President's Forum for Emerging Leaders invited approximately 115 students to participate in an evening of dinner, prizes and the chance to talk with various administrators of campus, including CSU President Larry Penley.

"Tonight (was) an opportunity to meet Dr. Penley and administrators and discuss leadership," said David Fontenot, student intern in the President's office and organizer of the evening's event.

An e-mail invitation notified specific students of the event; these students stood out in the minds of faculty, staff and the President's office due to their potential leadership skills and/or high GPA, Fontenot said.

The night of events began with a reception in which students gathered around tables to talk with various administrators from campus. President Penley welcomed students before dinner was served. The dinner hour included more conversation with administrators. Afterward, Penley shared encouraging words with students.

"What you have to do, if you're going to exercise leadership and get involved here at Colorado State University, is make this university a little bit better," Penley said during his presentation.

Students later had the chance to share what qualities they think make a good leader.

Jaime Magnuson, a freshman creative writing major, said hearing other students share their ideas and views about what they think leadership is was helpful.

"Bringing a lot of different people together for the same thing is really good," Magnuson said.

The idea for Wednesday night's event came from a previous program, "Pizza with the Prez," which was a more formal question-and-answer session in which students could participate with Penley, Fontenot said.

Penley believes the forum is a better alternative than the previous program.

"David (Fontenot) and I talked about this in the early fall and both of us felt like the alternative would work better," Penley said. "I think 'Pizza with the Prez' really helped to create the kind of exchange and interaction with students and the president that I would like to see."

Students who attended saw the program as a success.

"I think they had a really good turnout and people were really excited to be here and be energetic about leading input," said Mandy Elliott, freshman marketing and fashion merchandising major.

After Wednesday night, students are encouraged to commit themselves to becoming better leaders and stay involved with CSU, Fontenot said.

Penley is excited about the forum and its continuance in the upcoming semesters.

"I get really excited because it gives me a chance to meet directly with students of campus," Penley said. "It gives me a chance to hear what students are up to and concerned about. It gives us a chance to gather administration and students to focus in on leadership and talk about what that means."

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