WSU students, faculty learn together in new book club

Eric Maki, director of Campus Recreation, said he loves Mondays and hates the word “just.”

Mondays are full of opportunity and people often use “just” to diminish their role by saying, “I’m just a student” or “I just started this job,” Maki said.

Despite already having strong opinions on the subject, Maki said he has learned a lot about leadership in the new Leadership Book Club that started last month on campus.

The book club started as one of Nick Messing’s leadership programs. The club will last until the week of Nov. 9 and consists of four group sessions where students and faculty members discuss ideas and quotes from “You Don’t Need a Title to Be a Leader” by Mark Sanborn, facilitated by either Messing or SI director Nancy Loosle.

Messing, coordinator of leadership development in SI, said the book club was created this semester to talk about leadership, learn about it in a different way and bring faculty, staff and students together to learn and grow as leaders.

Based on the different session times throughout the week, 41 people were able to participate in the book club, resulting in groups of 12 to 15 each session, Messing said. Twenty-three of the club participants are students, ranging from freshmen to grad students.

Remaining members include staff and faculty like Gina Crabtree, director of Admissions, Kimberly Engber, Honors College dean, and Maki.

“It’s a good chance for students to interact with faculty and staff,” Messing said. “Everyone is on a level playing field. There is no one who can be right or wrong.”

Junior Sara Carroll said it’s interesting to hear the perspectives of faculty and staff and hear how they think of students being leaders, even in the classroom.

Carroll and sophomore Jacy Beck both plan and lead events as programming chairs of Student Activities Council and delegate work to other members.

“A lot of times when you’re leading you don’t even know you’re doing it,” Beck said.

One good example from the book had to do with a receptionist at an insurance company making a client feel appreciated after getting in a car crash. The client was planning on leaving the company but the receptionist’s actions made him change his mind, Beck said.    

Maki said he was asked to chair a search committee for a new Housing and Residence Life director last spring, but thought: “I’m busy.”

Despite being busy, Maki accepted.

“We can all find excuses to not do something,” Maki said. “I looked upon that as a compliment that I be asked to [chair the search committee], so I did it. I didn’t see it as an obligation.”

Maki said he picked up good leadership ideas from his session, like trying to make things fun for others and learning what success looks like to different people.

“Those are some things that other very smart people — some students, some faculty, some staff — brought up that really resonated with me [and] refocused my mind,” Maki said.

Messing said there will be another leadership book club next fall and possibly another this spring, based on feedback. He also said he is looking for suggestions on future books.