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Kirk Randazzo
Kirk Randazzo is the new director of the Carolina Leadership Initiative

New director for Carolina Leadership Initiative

By Megan Sexton, msexton@mailbox.sc.edu, 803-777-1421

Political science associate professor Kirk Randazzo, the new director of USC’s Carolina Leadership Initiative, learned some of his first lessons in leadership while he was an undergraduate at the University of South Carolina.

As a music major and a saxophone player in the marching, concert and jazz bands, Randazzo joined Kappa Kappa Psi, the national honorary fraternity for college band members. As he became involved in the organization locally and nationally, he saw upclose the value and importance of strong leadership.

“Leadership is not about a title or a position,” Randazzo said. “It’s about the person and what he or she can do to influence their corner of the world.

“Each person is able to make a meaningful change in someone’s life – positive or negative. If we know more about leadership – how it works and how we can influence others – we’ll be able to make a positive impact. That’s what grabs me every single time.”

Randazzo plans to bring that expertise and passion to the Carolina Leadership Initiative, an organization that promotes leadership development on campus and helps create new leadership projects. The initiative is designed to help students develop the motivation and the skills to make a positive difference in their local communities, throughout the state of South Carolina and around the nation and world. The CLI sponsors the Leadership Scholars Program, allowing students to submit competitive proposals for funding, with the projects intended to promote the students’ leadership skills.

For Randazzo, the director’s position he will take on in January is a perfect fit. Along with teaching political science courses at USC, he also has developed the leadership class that is part of USC’s new minor in leadership studies.

“President Harris Pastides has charted the leadership course at USC and our institution is committed to providing students with direction and opportunity to build leadership ability and experience,” said Helen Doerpinghaus, vice provost and dean of undergraduate studies at USC.

“The faculty director of the Carolina Leadership Initiative heads this important undertaking. Dr. Randazzo is an excellent choice. He is experienced with leadership education, he teaches and conducts research in the area, students have traveled with him to Washington, D.C., on leadership study trips and he teaches the gateway course for the new leadership minor launched in fall 2012.

“Everyone who hears that Dr. Randazzo is stepping into the role says the same thing to me: ‘Great choice! He’s the ideal faculty member to lead the way.’ ”

Randazzo believes opportunities offered to undergraduates through the Carolina Leadership Initiative and the new leadership minor degree will make students more marketable when they leave campus. In doing consulting work on leadership for the U.S. State Department, companies and nonprofits, he has learned that employers need and want individuals with leadership training “and they want it provided at the college level.”

“We are the flagship university. Leadership walks hand-in-hand with that responsibility. We must lead, and that’s Dr. Pastides’ vision for the university – that we lead and engage,” he said. “As a university, it’s our responsibility to encourage our students to become better individuals. Part of that involves encouraging our students to be more civic-minded, to engage more. And leadership can be part of that. It’s our fundamental responsibility to expose our students to it.”

Randazzo came to USC as an undergraduate student from New York, looking for a university with a good jazz program and a law school. He earned his bachelor’s degree in music in 1994. Before looking at law school, he decided he needed some political science training, earning his master’s in international studies with a focus on international law and diplomacy from USC. During that time, he switched paths and decided to pursue a career in academia and started his doctoral studies at Michigan State. He finished in 2003 and headed to the University of Kentucky. After five years, he came home to USC, where he is an associate professor of political science in College of Arts and Sciences, with a research focus on law and judicial politics and research methods.

But his companion area of interest has long been leadership, ever since he became involved in the national honorary fraternity for college band members at USC. In 1995, he was elected to a national position in the music fraternity and he remains involved. He helped design the group’s leadership curriculum, which gave him the chance to put to use what he was reading and learning about.

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Posted: 12/10/12 @ 12:00 AM | Updated: 01/03/13 @ 8:16 AM | Permalink

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