CentreTerm: President John Roush teaches Rainmaking
Centre College students often find their way to leadership positions — as students and after graduating — thanks to the rigorous, demanding experiences they have at the College. Each January, one of Centre’s foremost leaders, President John Roush, shares his secrets of success in his CentreTerm course, Rainmaking: The Study of and Preparation for Leadership.
CentreTerm is the College’s three-week January term that gives students and faculty the opportunity to dive into a single subject intensively. For President Roush, this course is the continuation of a lifetime interest in and pursuit of leadership.
“I had been deeply involved in this work at the University of Richmond before coming to Centre,” he explains, “and had spoken to dozens of conferences about leadership studies—much of this as part of the work I did in putting together the Jepson School of Leadership Studies, the first undergraduate program of its kind in the nation. So, when I got to Centre, the idea of teaching such a course was top-of-mind for me.”
Like any CentreTerm course, Roush’s class is demanding; students read at least 700 pages over three weeks, in addition to writing a paper and giving a presentation on a leader of their choice. The class recently traveled to Hodgenville, Ky., the birthplace of President Abraham Lincoln, one of the course’s featured leaders (pictured right).
“My students have astounded me with their preparation and in-class discussion,” Roush says. “I have most enjoyed being around students who are curious and want to be prepared for citizen-leadership.”
And while President Roush has decades of experience studying and practicing effective leadership, his course is designed for budding leaders.
“Centre students want to understand more about the phenomenon of leadership,” he says. “My class gives them a chance to get started, learn the language, become familiar with the principles that define good and effective leadership. I tell them on day one that Rainmaking is a ‘primer’ in the subject area.”
Roush’s philosophy on leadership recently went beyond the classroom, to be shared with the entire College community during the annual Founders Day celebration, when all of campus gathered to celebrate Centre’s 1819 founding.
At the celebration, Roush tied Abraham Lincoln’s historical and leadership legacy to the Centre Lincoln statue that students pass each day on their way to class.
“I imagine that many of us, as we make our way in and around Crounse Hall, will pass closely to Lincoln at least once each day and, maybe, choose to reach out and touch his boot toe—as I do—to remind me of my duty; inspiring me for sure,” he said. “And, make no mistake, those of us who are touched, inspired by Mr. Lincoln, will increase our chances of providing spark to new ideas, new solutions, new outcomes, a brighter future.”
Ultimately, President Roush’s class seeks to reveal the simple yet intricate balance of qualities that make a person an effective leader.
“I hope my students take away that good and effective leadership is hard work,” he says. “It’s not rocket science, but, rather, an interesting combination of intellect and common sense; confidence and humility. Leaders come in all shapes and sizes. Every person who leads is a ‘work in progress,’ forever becoming the leader he or she might be.”
Learn more about CentreTerm.
By Mariel Smith