Behnken named director of leadership studies

CATEGORIES: News, Notable
Woman smiling at the camera
Monic Behnken. Photo by Mark Looney.

Monic Behnken, associate professor of sociology, was recently named director of the leadership studies program in the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences at Iowa State University.

The leadership studies program provides students with a curriculum to develop a strong foundation of skills and knowledge to gain the key attributes of leadership. The program offers both a minor and a certificate and is open to all undergraduate students.

“Iowa State University has long prided itself in providing a strong student experience including leadership opportunities. The leadership studies program offers a way for students to move through leadership experiences to a deeper understanding of leadership theory and practice that helps them become more effective leaders,” said Amy Slagell, associate dean of the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences.

Behnken’s passion for excellence and variety of leadership experiences of her own will help the program thrive.

“Monic engages leadership studies through a systems perspective and has a successful record of collaborative leadership both on and off-campus,” said Slagell. “She knows our campus and the Ames community and has a clear vision for raising the profile of the program on campus, engaging community partners, mentoring students and creating powerful opportunities for students.”

Behnken joined the Iowa State faculty in August 2009 as a lecturer after obtaining her juris doctorate from Golden Gate University School of Law in 2004 and her Ph.D. from the Pacific Graduate School of Psychology in Palo Alto, California in 2008. Behnken is currently licensed by of the the California State Bar Association and the Iowa State Bar Association.

Deeply embedded in the Iowa State and Ames communities through service and leadership, Behnken leads with a focus on empowerment and inclusion. She plans to use her personal experiences to inform her work in leadership studies.

“As my leadership experience has evolved, I’ve become increasingly interested in cultivating leadership in others, particularly women, people of color, first-generation college students, and other underrepresented groups,” said Behnken. “This position is the perfect opportunity to give back to my community by working with students in a different capacity to educate other leaders.”

Behnken will continue to serve the Department of Sociology, teaching a criminal justice studies course each semester, mentoring students and contributing to the department’s rich portfolio of research.

With her new appointment as director of leadership studies, Behnken plans to focus on diversity, inclusion and the student experience. She said students can expect a modern, inclusive, and expanded perspective on leadership that prioritizes experiential and high-impact learning opportunities.

“My philosophy is that leadership is about developing greatness in others,” said Behnken. “Because of this, my vision is for leadership studies to create an environment in which students are nurtured into leadership, expand the boundaries of their leadership, and learn how to purposefully cultivate leadership in others.”

Behnken’s appointment is effective March 1, 2019 through June 30, 2022.