Student leaders honor URI President Robert L. Carothers

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President Robert L. Carothers has been honored statewide and nationally, but never quite like this.

Using the tune of the theme song to Family Guy the Leadership Institute honored Carothers with their version of the song, “President Guy.” Ian Harney and Colleen Riley, two members of the leadership program, presented the song, singing, “It seems today that all you see, is leadership on campus and building community. Everyone at Institute a servant leader when they get to URI, Bobby C’s our president guy.”Carothers was honored by the Leadership Institute, an annual retreat for leadership minors, held at Alton Jones Campus earlier this semester.

The song was part of a presentation in which Carothers was honored for all he has done to support the Center for Leadership Development. Carothers was named Servant Leader of the Year by the Institute, which he helped create on campus in 1997. The Institute called Carothers a role model for URI students, something he holds with high regard.

“I try to listen to students to give them the confidence and competence that is needed to succeed,” Carothers said. “Those characteristics together feed upon each other and grow. As the Chinese philosophy says, the goal of leadership is that in the end the people will say, ‘we did it ourselves.'”

Carothers was extremely honored to receive the award. Carothers has been a part of the Center for Student Leadership Development since it was granted temporary status in 1997 and permanent status in 2000. Academic courses have been offered since 1992 and the Minor in Leadership Studies was approved in 1998. Since the development of the Minor, nearly 250 students have graduated with the Minor.

“Not everything you start is successful, and to be recognized for your work is not all that common so it felt very good,” said Carothers.

Since the center opened in 2000, Carothers has done many things to contribute to the leadership program along with plenty of research involving servant leadership. He has been involved with the leadership program from the start and has helped it spread throughout the university. Basing the Leadership Institute on a similar model he worked on during his days as chancellor of Minnesota State Universities system from 1986-1991, Carothers has passed his knowledge onto the peer leaders at the URI, who are now sharing these skills and experiences with the incoming freshman. This forms a chain reaction that can be disbursed throughout campus to develop great and inspirational leaders.

In addition to recognizing Dr. Carothers, the Leadership Institute also celebrated a milestone with more than 1000 student leaders that have gone through the Institute experience. Carothers feels these students are faced with a great responsibility.

“I hope that students understand that they are the leaders of the next generation, whether they want to be or not,” Carothers said. “I hope that they make a conscious effort to prepare themselves for that. Many of the dynamics of leadership have changed with the advent of new communications technology, to the extent that change happens much quicker and the sources of information upon which people depend are now broad and diverse. Top-down leadership fails more often than not. So our students need to understand these dynamics and develop their leadership skills in that context.”

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Ian Harney and Colleen Riley, two members of the Leadership Institute, presented URI President Robert L. Carothers with an award to honor him as “Servant Leader of the Year.”