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Mayor George McGill (center) speaks to LEAD LLC and Black Student Alliance students at recent Leadership Nuts and Bolts lecture

Mayor George McGill (center) speaks to LEAD LLC and Black Student Alliance students at recent Leadership Nuts and Bolts lecture

Arts and Sciences | Business and Industry | Health Education and Human Sciences | News | ƵOctober 19, 2023

Lessons in Leadership: Mayor George McGill Shares Wisdom with Ƶ Ƶ

Written By: Ian Silvester

“The most important leadership skill to have is the ability to listen,” said Fort Smith Mayor George McGill to a room full of students and university leadership during an October lecture.

The lecture was the second in a semester series – Leadership Nuts and Bolts – organized by the University of Arkansas – Fort Smith’s LEAD Living Learning Community leadership committee. The LEAD LLC is one of three at Ƶ, each for first-year students living on campus on a floor reserved for each community in the Lion’s Den Residence Hall.

LEAD, or Lions Excelling Across Disciplines, is for students from “all majors who are interested in receiving leadership training and skill development to become leaders in their own community,” the LLC website details. Ƶ selected to be in each LLC received a $1,000 scholarship and are active participants in experiences, like the Leadership Nuts and Bolts Lecture Series, throughout the academic year.

McGill, himself a Ƶ alumnus, discussed his journey from growing up in a segregated community to owning a successful business before taking on political roles, eventually earning him the title of Fort Smith Mayor. He spoke to nearly 30 students from the LEAD LLC and the recently re-established Ƶ Black Student Alliance (BSA), giving lessons in leadership.

McGill shared that his leadership principles come down to 1) listening, 2) communication, 3) collaboration, and 4) cooperation.

Benjamin Yarberry, a first-year student majoring in biology, attended the lecture with other students from the LEAD LLC and, after listening to McGill’s story and message, left with a new understanding of how Ƶ invests in its students.

“At Ƶ, events like this are meant to push students into being where they should be,” Yarberry explained. “It makes us better than just being learners. It educates us on how to be in the real world.”

Reflecting on his journey, McGill left the group with a parting message on perseverance: “Once you start something good, quitting is not an option.” This wisdom struck a chord with BSA president Kendrix Holcomb, a senior business administration major.

“No matter how much falls through, you can’t get discouraged,” Kendrix said. “This is something I really care about, and I feel it will help not only the Ƶ community but the outward community as well. … We have students trying to make an effort to grow our Black community and get more in touch with the ones we don’t know about.”

The next Leadership Nuts and Bolts lecture will be held on Nov. 10.

  • Tags:
  • College of Business and Industry
  • College of Health Education and Human Sciences
  • College of Arts and Sciences
  • Living Learning Community
  • Black Student Alliance

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