Dr. Lauren Sponseller, Occupational Therapy (OT) Department chair and director of the Master’s in OT program, was recently selected to the American Occupational Therapy Association’s Academic Leadership Institute (ALI). She is one of only 20 participants chosen throughout the U.S.
The ALI aims to help grow and develop participants’ leadership skills in academia. Participants each completed an application and provided a letter of support from a supervisor in order to be chosen. All participants attend a two-day intensive workshop, complete seven monthly online modules, and participate in monthly facilitated group mentoring sessions. Participants discuss higher education current events as well as challenges that could potentially arise in academic leadership.
Dr. Sponseller believes her participation in the exclusive leadership program is helping her further develop her management skills so she can “be the best leader I can be for our OT program here at Salus.”
“I have had many great mentors who are in leadership roles,” she said. “The advice they have always given me has been to continue to grow, be humble, and know that you can always learn more. [In the ALI I am] learning from people who have a strong track record of great leadership. Within the small group atmosphere, you can be heard, but also have a chance to work through obstacles that your program has faced or will face.”
Some of the topics discussed during the monthly online modules and in group mentoring sessions include the overarching higher education landscape across the country, annual budgeting, mentoring junior faculty members and motivating both faculty and students alike.
Overall, Dr. Sponseller believes the program has been a positive learning experience which has given her the opportunity to collaborate with other academic leaders in the occupational therapy profession throughout the U.S.
“It has been wonderful to have the added support and to be learning from people all over the country,” she said.