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Servant-Leadership Gets Big Boost at CUI

November 22, 2021 - 2 minute read

Kent Schlichtemeier speaking to students

The Kern Family Foundation has made another significant investment at CUI, with a $1.5 million grant for the founding of a Servant Leadership Institute (SLI) on campus.

“Jesus Christ said he came not to be served but to serve,” says Kent Schlichtemeier, dean of the School of Education and inaugural director of the Servant Leadership Institute. “Jesus was the perfect leader, and through his words and actions he teaches us that servant-leadership should be something we all aspire to as we lead in education, in our families, in businesses, in whatever we’re doing. This grant from the Kern Family Foundation is going to give us an opportunity to reach into the community and beyond to help others see the strengths inherent in servant-leadership. We’re pretty excited about it.”

The SLI is one of several Kern-funded programs across campus which include the Center for Church Leadership, and the FaithWorks Center. Discussions about such an institute began in 2016 between Schlichtemeier and CUI vice president Tim Jaeger. The idea was placed on the back-burner until a year ago, when the Kern Family Foundation inquired about CUI’s interest in building such an institute.

“God is clearly in the details of life as he unexpectedly led the Kern Family Foundation to help establish the SLI for such a time as this, when our world needs humble leaders, eager to serve with wisdom, honor and character,” says Schlichtemeier.

The University applied for and received the three-year grant. The SLI will operate under the auspices of the School of Education. An emphasis on exemplary leadership strategies and developing strong character will be incorporated into all the School’s programs.

“It’s already part of our vision to attract, equip and support wise and honorable servant-leaders,” says Schlichtemeier. “This is going to help us focus our efforts even more internally.”

It will also empower CUI to share those values with the wider community. The SLI will hold summer seminars on campus for educational leaders and students from around the area and the country. Schlichtemeier expects to bring in high-level speakers for these events.

The School of Education is also creating a new master’s degree in educational leadership with a specialization in social-emotional learning, character and ethics as a result of the grant.

Rev. Dr. Scott Ashmon, CUI provost, believes the institution is blessed to have Schlichtemeier as its inaugural director of the SLI: "Kent’s passion for character formation, commitment to CUI’s vision of developing ‘wise, honorable, and cultivated citizens,’ and his bonds with numerous public and private school leaders make him the ideal person to direct this new institute. I look forward to seeing how God will work through Kent to encourage administrators, teachers, counselors, and high school students to hone the habits and traits they need for their callings in service to others."

“The Kern Family Foundation sees we are deeply committed to this vision,” Schlichtemeier says. “Everybody’s committed to its success and eager to see where the Lord will lead this.” 

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