New Book Details Jon Wefald's Principles Of Effective Leadership

By Cheryl May

KSU News Service

Few college presidents have been as well recognized nationally for improving the athletic and academic programs on a campus as has Kansas State University’s Jon Wefald.

Now his leadership secrets are available to readers of a new book, "A University Renaissance: Jon Wefald’s Presidency at Kansas State." Written by Robert J. Shoop, professor of educational law and senior scholar in the leadership studies program at K-State, the book is being released in August in paperback and early September in hardback. It will be available at the K-State Student Union Bookstore and other outlets.

Lauded by publications from the Christian Science Monitor to Sports Illustrated to USA Today, and by broadcasters like Paul Harvey, the accomplishments during Wefald’s tenure have been well noted by the national media. USA Today called these achievements the "miracle in Manhattan."

"Leaders see things differently," Wefald says in the book. "Leadership begins with a vision and without a vision there can be no effective leadership. King Solomon stated it succinctly, ‘where there is no vision, the people perish.’ For a leader, a vision is not a dream: it is reality that has not yet come into existence. Vision is palpable to leaders. Otherwise they would not be able to devote the long hours over many years that it takes to fulfill a vision."

According to Wefald, "vision is the creation of a focus, the development of an agenda ... The key is for the leader to ask, not what can I do, but what needs to be done?" A vision is something that provides a mental picture, a future orientation, or a guidepost for an organization. It describes where an organization is going and how it is going to get there. It is a picture of the future for which people are willing to work.

"This book will focus on President Jon Wefald’s approach to creating wide-spread change while building a sense of community and remaining true to the institution’s core values," Shoop said. "The book is organized around Wefald’s eight characteristics of excellent leadership. The goals of this book are to allow the reader to learn about the remarkable renaissance of K-State and President Wefald’s role and to observe the real-life experience of applying leadership principles in an authentic setting — a major university. This book will assist anyone interested in becoming a better leader gain some new perspectives about leadership," he said.

Under Wefald’s leadership, K-State has added about 1.6 million square feet of new university buildings, including a new library, a new art museum, and a nationally acclaimed plant science building. In addition, during the Wefald years, enrollments increased from about 17,000 to more than 21,900; K-State built a healthy endowment program; and established a national presence in athletics. With Wefald at the helm, K-State’s total research funding increased to record numbers. The university returns nearly $17 for every $1 of state funding it receives.

Since his arrival in 1986, K-State leads the nation’s public universities in the total number of Rhodes, Marshall, Truman, Goldwater and Udall scholarship winners. K-State students have won more Truman scholarships, more Goldwater scholarships and more Udall scholarships than any other public university in the nation. By recognizing and encouraging excellence, Wefald has helped K-State achieve the pinnacle of success, according to Shoop and others quoted in the book.

Before coming to K-State, Wefald served as chancellor of the State University System in Minnesota from 1982-86, a system comprised of seven universities. He was president of Southwest State in Marshall, Minn., from 1977-82; Minnesota’s commissioner of agriculture from 1971-77; and a member of the faculty at Gustavus Adolphus from 1965-70.

He earned his B.A. in history and political science from Pacific Lutheran University, Tacoma, Wash., in 1959; his M.A. in history and political science from Washington State University in 1961; and his doctorate in history from the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, in 1965.

Both Wefald and Shoop will be available for a book-signing at the Union Bookstore Saturday, Sept. 22, from 10 to 11:30 a.m. prior to the K-State vs. New Mexico football game.

Copies of the book, available in both hardback and paperback, may be ordered from the Union Bookstore, by calling 785-532-6583 or 1-800-KSU-CATS, or online at Costs are $26.95 plus tax for hardback or $17.95 plus tax for paperback.