Flag officers to talk transformational leadership

Panel will focus on leadership in the age of social media

| Author: Eric Baerren | Media Contact: Aaron Mills

A U.S. Army general whose leadership journey started at Central Michigan University will lead a discussion about leadership, with Lieutenant Gen. Gwen Bingham and retired Major Gen. Greg J. Vadnais, both of whom previously attended CMU.

Major Gen. Darren Werner, ’89, will be the moderator of “Leading Transformative Change” in the Bovee U.C. Auditorium. Werner came to CMU’s Mount Pleasant campus as a freshman in 1985.

The conversation will explore transformational leadership, a style of leadership where leaders must adapt quickly to rapidly changing conditions.

“In today’s world, things change so quickly,” he said.

An example is the speed by which technology allows the sharing of information.

Twenty years ago, when Werner deployed to Iraq, the lack of modern technology made it difficult to stay in touch with people back home, he said. Now, you can contact people instantaneously from around the world.

This also creates challenges because everyone has a camera and can share video or photos just as quickly. Leaders need to make and execute decisions knowing those decisions can receive scrutiny almost immediately. It also means making decisions that protect the rights of American citizens in real-time.

“That’s an environment for leaders to take on new challenges,” he said.

Werner came to CMU already a member of the Michigan Army National Guard, which he joined his senior year of high school in Mayville. He participated in CMU’s storied ROTC program while remaining a member of the National Guard.

Upon graduation, he was commissioned a second lieutenant on active duty with the Army. While attending CMU, he developed critical thinking skills that paved his path to a successful career in the Army, he said.

“Central made me very competitive,” he said. The university also introduced him to the concept of diversity, including diverse backgrounds and experiences of soldiers, which Werner said makes the U.S. military the most powerful in the world.

During his career, he said he discovered other Army officers who received advanced degrees from CMU, many of whom attended the university’s program in Ft. Leavenworth. Over the years, more than 150 generals and admirals have enrolled in CMU programs.

One officer who attended CMU’s program at Ft. Leavenworth was Lieutenant General Lawson McGruder III.

Attending CMU was an intense learning experience that paid off in new management skills, McGruder said. It’s also a testament to CMU’s long-standing and deep relationship with the U.S. military.

“CMU’s relationship with veterans, active-duty, National Guard, Army Reserve servicemen and women, and the ROTC program is a model for other academic institutions,” he said.

The panel discussion will take place from 2-3 p.m. on Sept. 29 in the Bovee U.C. Auditorium, followed by breakout leadership sessions from 3-4 p.m. in the U.C. Lakeshore and Mackinac Rooms. The event is sponsored by the offices of the President and the Provost, Army ROTC and the Department of Intercollegiate Athletics.