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Evolving a tradition for new CMU Chippewas

Leadership program adapts to the changing needs of students

​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​Central Michigan University's Leadership Safari celebrated its 20th anniversary this week. More than 24,000 students have participated throughout the years, and the program continues to grow and adapt. From 65 participants in 1996 to a record 2,134 students this year.

What was originally initiated by a few Residence Hall Assembly students is now a time-honored tradition with more than 250 student volunteers, three st​aff assistant​​s, a graduate assistant, a program coordinator and a director.

LS Growth.jpg A look at Leadership Safari's growth from 1996 to 2015, as well as new additions through this year.

Always searching for ways to build on the previous year, Director Dani Hiar says the greatest change made to Leadership Safari was in 2011 when the Pizza with Professors and Professionals dinner and Traditions Day with the athletics department were implemented. The team was looking for ideas to expand and begin to build skills that would help students be successful at CMU and beyond.

"Both of those events are pivotal in helping solidify what it means to be a CMU Chippewa," Hiar said. "It's more than having fun and meeting friends."​


With 95 percent of the program's content created through student input, Hiar lovingly calls it a learning organization. When she took over as director in 2000, Hiar realized Safari was growing faster than anyone expected.

"People tell me that I must be incredibly proud of this program, and I am," Hiar said. "But I can't take credit for it all. There have been more than 3,000 people that have been on staff through the years, and they deserve just as much credit."​


Safari Kickoff.jpg     Creating leaders.jpg              ​Safari kickoff                                                       Creating leaders​

Pizza with Professionals gallery.jpg    Traditions gallery.jpg.Students dine with faculty and staff       Becoming a Chippewa

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