New Mizzou initiative to begin first year of programming this fall

Mizzou Longform

Preparing Champions for Life!

Mizzou Athletics' main priority is helping its student-athletes grow, as its mission statement clearly states. That growth happens in the classroom, in social settings and on the field of play. Mizzou's three core values, after all, are: Social Responsibility, Academic Integrity and Competitive Excellence. That roadmap has helped Mizzou's Total Person Program become an industry leader in the development of student-athletes. And now it gets only better.

The newly created Tiger Leadership Institute will help Mizzou student-athletes become a “Leader for Life”. The leadership development program is designed to shape Tigers into productive leaders while they are on campus, but also help them take those skills beyond their days wearing the Black & Gold after graduation.

Kim Bishop

Kim Bishop

The TLI initiative will be the first of its kind for Mizzou Athletics, providing immediate benefits according to Associate Athletics Director for Student-Athlete Development, Kim Bishop. The program's goal begins with an initial question for participants: How do you become a MizzouMade leader?

“The Tiger Leadership Institute is going to provide a framework for guiding our student-athletes as they become the best leaders they can be,” Bishop said. “That's important while they are here at Mizzou, but even more importantly, it can help shape their future. We're teaching for beyond college, for when our student-athletes graduate and begin their professional careers.”

Mack Rhoades

Mack Rhoades

Effective leadership starts at the top, and no one in Mizzou Athletics has been more of a voice behind the creation of the Tiger Leadership Institute than new Director of Athletics, Mack Rhoades.

“It's incredibly exciting to know our athletic director believes strongly in this,” Bishop said. “It helps our student-athletes see the importance of this program, as well as all of our coaches and support staff. Mack giving his support makes all the difference in the world.”

Student-athletes are at the core of what we do. That's something that is very near and dear to my heart. It's our job as leaders to develop young people.

Mack Rhoades

Rhoades' opening remarks at his introductory press conference on March 10 hammered home the fact that developing student-athletes is his passion, fitting right in with something that Mizzou's Total Person Program has excelled at for years. Rhoades' many speaking engagements across the state since his arrival in Columbia have included several mentions of the impending launch of the Tiger Leadership Institute, only building the level of excitement for the program's jumping off point.

“To be considered a leader at Mizzou by other student-athletes and our coaches is very important to me. I look forward to representing the volleyball team in the institute's first class.” – Carly Kan

How It Will Work

The initial Tiger Leadership Institute class consists of 55 student-athletes, chosen to bring a variety of backgrounds, races, experience levels and attitudes together for a common goal: to grow as leaders. The goal will be to have several TLI graduates, namely those who are currently Tiger underclassmen, return for the program's second year as mentors to the new class.

“When you think of Mizzou's mission statement, ‘Preparing Champions for Life’, this is exactly what we're going to do,” Bishop said. “It's about providing the best possible experience for our student-athletes during the four or five years they are here. And then we're preparing them for the next 40 years, 50 years of their lives beyond that.”

The TLI program will draw from the theory of authentic leadership, as well as the University of Missouri's Leadership Competency Model. Bishop has assistance from on campus with a duo of leadership experts. Dr. Gregory Holliday, Director of Leadership Development for the University of Missouri System, and Dr. Ty-Ron Douglas, an assistant professor in the Department of Educational Leadership and Policy Analysis, have helped shape the program's curriculum.

“They are both experts in leadership theory and development from right here on the University of Missouri's campus, so they are providing outstanding insight and direction for the entire program,” Bishop said. “Sometimes our student-athletes are simply told they are leaders. But they don't always understand that, and we can actually do a better job showing them truly what leadership means.”

“Being looked at as a leader here at Mizzou is extremely humbling since I am just a freshman, and it is a responsibility that I take very seriously.” - Trey Harris

Beginning at the end of August, the 55 Tigers will be broken into five “crews” at an opening three-hour retreat. The crews will spend time getting to know each other during monthly meetings. Each crew will develop a service project during their year in the program that will be unique, impactful to the local community and demanding of leadership.

Each monthly meeting will be built around consulting a duo of group moderators, known as the crew's facilitators. Some of the topics for each meeting will include: identifying and defining values, relationship building and empowering others. Facilitators have been chosen from throughout Mizzou's athletic department, with Bishop and the TPP staff identifying individuals with strong leadership skills that can serve as role models for the student-athletes.

An additional component of each student-athlete's time will be spent evaluating themselves and their leadership style through assessments designed by Dr. Holliday and Dr. Douglas. The 360 degree-styled assessment will allow the student-athletes' peers and coaches the opportunity to rate their leadership abilities and values.

Several established leaders from Mizzou's sport programs are involved in the institute's first class. But along with those particular student-athletes, Bishop is excited to see potential future leaders involved.

“We really wanted freshmen that a Mizzou coach would say ‘You have the potential to be a leader’,” Bishop said. “Starting there, this will help our teams develop leadership. Those underclassmen will hopefully return to lead their teams in an even stronger fashion.”

“This program seems to be such a great opportunity. I know it will help me become a more positive vocal leader.” - Tori Finucane

Mizzou has a family atmosphere.

That phrase is often heard when Tiger student-athletes are asked about what drew them to Mizzou. The Total Person Program undoubtedly has a major hand in creating the caring, nurturing environment that has helped develop so many of Mizzou's student-athletes.

When Mizzou student-athletes graduate and walk across that stage, we want them prepared academically, socially and professionally to take the next step. Leadership plays a key role in that.

Kim Bishop

“In Mizzou's Total Person Program, there is a focus on all areas of their lives,” Bishop said. “We provide every service they need to be successful. We complete the total experience.

“I tell prospective student-athletes when they visit Mizzou on recruiting trips that they are going to spend a ton of time in the classroom, a ton of time at practice. But there is a lot left to complete the full student-athlete experience at Mizzou. We're here to help shape that.”

Enhanced leadership instruction may be the latest component of Mizzou's student-athlete experience, but the mission remains the same: become #MizzouMade. And Mizzou's family atmosphere will certainly benefit in the near future.

“It's going to help all Mizzou student-athletes become better leaders. It's an honor to be a part of this special group of people.” - Willie Miklus

Support the Total Person Program

To be privileged enough to be a part of this experience means the world to me. The ways it will benefit not only myself, but my peers, will be extensive.

Tori Finucane

The Total Person Program is dedicated to developing the total student-athlete in the primary areas of academics, social responsibility and post-collegiate career development. With the pressures and challenges that face our student-athletes, our trained team of professionals work closely with them to monitor their development and make certain their experience at Mizzou is a positive one. Each student-athlete is supported relative to his or her individual needs and goals. Many different services are provided for Mizzou student-athletes, including: tutorial assistance, mentoring, enhanced learning (for students with documented learning disabilities), career planning, the Tiger Leadership Institute and volunteer opportunities.

Tiger Scholarship Fund gifts to the TPP are 100-percent tax deductible and will now count towards donor level. TSF donors are encouraged to consider supporting the Total Person Program's efforts, including the new Tiger Leadership Institute. Find out more at TSFMizzou.com.

Tiger Leadership Institute

A product of Mizzou Athletics Strategic Communications

Design: Kevin Fletcher

Photography: Clayton Hotze, Ben Walton, USA Today Sports Images, Loren Elliott

Published July 6, 2015; updated Aug. 6, 2015