Wilson Leadership Fellows Highlights

President Stimpert talking with students in the football stadium stands

Fellows in year one focus on emotional intelligence and being a good teammate. This fall, first-year fellows participated in the pre-term workshop, heard from President Stimpert, learned about presence and moving audiences from the American Shakespeare Company, spent time with student government executive officers, learned about the facets of emotional intelligence, took the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator test.

Fellows in year two, termed the Society of ’91 (named in honor of eight inspiring members of the Hampden-Sydney Class of 1791), focus on developing their understanding of servant leadership. This semester, second-year fellows heard from Bert Bateman ’80, participated in small group discussions about positive political leadership and ethics in public life, heard from President Stimpert, and went on an overnight camping trip to Holiday Lake.

Students gathered doing a low ropes course activity outside

Fellows in year three focus on preparing for life after College. They are paired with alumni mentors and are asked to consider not just what they want to be after graduation but also who they want to be. We endeavor to align their values and actions. This year’s third-year Fellows heard from Brandon Randall ’04 about being a good mentor and mentee, spent time with Ferguson Career Center Director Stephanie Joynes, heard from Court Vanzant ’02 about leadership and integrity, and had a discussion with local faith leaders about supporting Afghan refugees in Southside Virginia.

Fellows in year four focus on serving as captains and big brothers to the younger guys in the program. They put their experience in to action. Fellows in year four also spent time with Brandon Randall ’04 this semester. They took the strengths finders test and worked with Michael Wriston as they discovered their gifts. The Fellows also heard from Hugo Rodriquez ’88 who asked the Fellows to reflect on their strengths and to find positive ways to interact with others.

Dr. Hillen Class Outing

students posing for a photo at the top of a hill

Seven students in the Strategic Leadership in American Institutions course—accompanied by H-SC alumni, other college professors, and Wheat Professor John Hillen—took to the field on a recent Saturday for an all-day staff ride.  A staff ride is an exercise designed by the military to re-enact the major decisions of leaders in a historic campaign on the very spots where those decisions took place. Dr. Hillen’s class adapted the concept for their study of strategic leadership and decision-making and re-played the last weeks of the U.S. Civil War, in particular 10 days of the Appomattox campaign. Playing Abraham Lincoln, Jefferson Davis, Ulysses Grant, Robert E. Lee, Philip Sheridan, James Longstreet, and other major political and military decision-makers, students gave presentations in character about how they were thinking through their strategic position, their institutional goals, and how they were framing their decision-making process. The characters interacted with each other just as they may have in real life. The staff ride took place at the Sailor’s Creek Battlefield, High Bridge in Farmville, and the Appomattox Courthouse.

Coleman Meadows ’22

Why did I choose H-SC?

Coleman Meadows '22 headshot
Coleman Meadows ’22

When I took a tour of Hampden-Sydney during my senior year of high school, I got the opportunity to attend some of the classes that I was interested in taking. Since I graduated from a small private school, graduating with only 38 other students, I recognized that Hampden-Sydney would be able to provide me with a similar educational experience. For example, the small class sizes and close interactions that the students were able to have with the professors of the classes I attended resonated with me in a way that a larger state school did not.

With what activities have you been most engaged on campus?

In addition to serving as a Wilson Leadership Fellow, I am a tour guide for the Garnet and Grey Society, a peer advisor for a freshman advisory group, the president of the Mentoring Club, the chairman of the Student Court, a psychology tutor, the editor for the psychology section of the Journal of Sciences, an orientation and service leader, and a member of Omicron Delta Kappa and Psi Chi.

What have you enjoyed most about the Wilson Leadership Fellows Program?

The most meaningful component of my experience as a Wilson Leadership Fellow has definitely been the student-alumni pairings that the Fellows receive during their third year of the program. I was fortunate enough to be paired with Dave Wilson ’63, who has continuously provided me with knowledge about what to expect and how to navigate my life succeeding Hampden-Sydney. Not only has Dave taught me to pursue careers that I find particularly meaningful, but he has always made an effort to help me in any way possible.

How has the WLFP helped you grow as a person, student, and leader?

Coleman Meadows at camp with young children

As a Wilson Fellow with a minor in Leadership in the Public Interest, examining leadership theory has contributed to my growth as a person, student, and leader. For instance, it is easy to fall victim to the misconception that leaders are born rather than created through continuous practice and implementation. By learning of this fallacy early in my academic career, I have taken risks and opportunities that I likely would not have otherwise. In doing so, I have been in numerous leadership positions that have required me to examine my own leadership style and even ethical judgements, something that is rare among most college students.

What are your current plans after Hampden-Sydney?

The million-dollar question that seems to frequently arise. I have several options that I am still attempting to decipher before graduation, but in an ideal world, my plans would include attending graduate school at The College of William and Mary for school psychology and beginning my career thereafter. I have always had a passion for working with children and adolescents, and as a psychology major, I think this route would provide me with a truly meaningful career that also integrates my passion for psychological research.

Jackson Aherron ’22

Why I chose H-SC

Jackson Aherron '22 headshot
Jackson Aherron ’22

I chose Hampden-Sydney because of the opportunity to grow in and outside of the classroom. The College’s academic programs and the commitment to carrying out the mission of forming “good men and good citizens in an atmosphere of sound learning” impressed me.

With what activities have you been most engaged on campus?

While attending Hampden-Sydney, I have been a Wilson Leadership Fellow and a member of the football team. I have also served as an orientation leader, TigerFund analyst, and shift manager at Tiger Rec.

What I have enjoyed most about the Wilson Center?

I have enjoyed hearing and learning from distinguished alumni and guests of the College. These events are always enjoyable, and they have had a positive impact on how I approach leadership.

How has the WLFP helped you grow as a person, student, or leader?

The WLFP has supported my personal growth by teaching me the right way to lead. The program spends a lot of time discussing the leader-follower relationship, specifically the need for leaders to understand their followers. I now approach leadership by first learning about who I will be working with and establishing a healthy leader-follower relationship. Another way the WLFP has helped me grow is through the mentoring program. Beginning in my junior year, I was matched with an alumnus. That relationship has given me additional confidence as I begin my career.

After Hampden-Sydney

After graduation, I plan to start my career in the finance sector.

Student Awards

The Harvey B. Morgan Public Service Award is presented annually to a graduating senior who has successfully completed the requirements of the Public Service Program at Hampden-Sydney College, who has demonstrated an interest in public service at the local or state level, and whose integrity and excellence of character reflect those qualities as evidenced in the life of Harvey B. Morgan ‘52.

Kevin Canny headshot standing in Washington DC

Congratulations to the 2020 recipient, Kevin Canny ’21. Kevin was a top student and very active during his time at the College.  He earned a Harrison Merit Scholarship; served as the single student representative on the Academic Affairs Committee; member of the Garnett and Grey Society; Vice President of the Rotoract Club; a Rhetoric Studio Consultant;  a member of the Martin Leadership Program as a Freshman; founded the Alexander Hamilton Society (a student group dedicated to studying and preparing for careers in national security); interned at the White House; and was elected into the following academic honor societies: Phi Beta Kappa, Omicron Delta Kappa, Pi Sigma Alpha, and Phi Sigma Iota. After a summer internship with the DIA, Kevin plans to pursue a career as either a civil servant or political appointee within the federal government.

Each year the James Y. Simms National Security Studies Award is presented to a graduating senior who has excelled in the field of national security studies, completed the requirements of the National Security Studies minor at Hampden-Sydney College; who has demonstrated leadership and service; and whose integrity and excellence of character reflect those qualities as evidenced in the life of James Y. Simms.

Christopher Thompson standing with a professor

Congratulations to the 2020 award recipient, Christopher Thompson ’21.  Christopher was also a top student and very active during his time at the College.  He earned a Harrison Merit Scholarship; served as a student court investigator; completed both the Martin Leadership Program and the Society of ’91 Leadership programs; was President of the Rugby Club; founded the YMCA Congress Club at Hampden-Sydney; interned at the FBI; and was selected into the following academic honor societies: Omicron Delta Kappa, Pi Sigma Alpha, and Phi Alpha Theta.  Chris plans to serve as a Management Consultant at Booz Allen Hamilton after graduation.

Congratulations to both of these outstanding young men.  You exemplify the best of our student body—we know you will lead meaningful lives of service.

Matthew Marsh ’22

Matt Marsh headshot
Matt Marsh ’22

Why I chose H-SC: I came to Hampden-Sydney because I knew it would be the place where I could thrive with like-minded people.  I also appreciated the meaningful alumni network.

Involvement: I’m in the Four Year leadership program, Chi Phi Fraternity, I’ve served as Student Body Secretary-Treasurer, a Student Court member and the Future Educators Club.

What I have enjoyed most about the Wilson Center: I’ve enjoyed the opportunities it has presented to connect with other students.  I have also been able to as well as develop my own personal leadership skills, which should help me in the future.

Matt Marsh sitting on a terrace

The WLFP has supported my personal growth by pushing me to recognize my own potential to make a difference in the world. People often lose sight of their guiding principles and the program has helped me to identify my own guiding principles and apply them to my interactions with others.

After Hampden-Sydney: I’d like to work on the Hill for a few years after graduation then attend law school or get my MPA.  I am excited that the Wilson Center has graduate agreements in place with Cornell, Pepperdine and UVA.  This summer I’ll be working for a biopharmaceutical company in their government affairs department.  I will also be training for to complete a triathlon.

M.K. Johnston ’22

MK Johnston headshot
M.K. Johnston

Why I chose H-SC: I chose H-SC because of the exacting and rigorous academic program, the wonderful people, and the excellent alumni network. H-SC is an institution in which I knew from the beginning that I would thrive as a student, young man, and leader in and out of the classroom. I also knew that H-SC would put me in an ideal situation for success in my future endeavors. From the outside looking in, I saw a sense of love, family, and brotherhood at H-SC.  There was no other place I wanted to invest four years of my life to receive a college education. 

The H-SC experience has been a gold mine of developmental opportunities. On top of playing two years for the varsity basketball team, my time here has so far allowed me to participate in the Pre-Law Society, the Phi Alpha Delta Pre-Law Fraternity, Brother4Brother mentorship program, the Sigma Tau Delta English honor society, as well as the inaugural class of the Wilson Fellows Leadership program. My fellow students also trusted me with the opportunity to serve as the president of the H-SC Islamic Society, which I did happily while also working a job at the campus library. 

MK Johnston in a suit

What I have enjoyed most about the Wilson Fellows Leadership program are the countless seminars and programs that not only focused on leadership, but also on various aspects of honing and developing my personality, character, and mentality.  These sessions enabled me to develop my leadership capabilities to take on the world by enjoining the right and forbidding the wrong. 

The Wilson Fellows Leadership Program has helped me grow as a student, person, and leader, by exposing me to valuable information such as public speaking, important leadership characteristics, and team-building exercises, just to name a few.  Thanks to the mentoring program, networking opportunities, help with internships, etc., the Wilson Fellows Leadership Program has put me in a position to continue to be a successful student, person, and leader. 

This summer I will be interning at the H-SC Alumni office, while also prepping and studying to take the LSAT in October.  I will also be starting a new chapter in my life by getting married. After my journey has ended at H-SC, I plan to enroll in law school.

Wilson Archival Update

Since last reporting, the processing of the Samuel Vaughan Wilson Papers is finishing up. All photographs and documents have been placed in acid-free folders and boxes. Dr. Colin Woodward, the Project Archivist, has organized the collection at the folder level to allow for easy access to materials. He has also compiled an extensive and detailed finding aid that he will upload to ArchivesSpace, Hampden-Sydney’s online archival catalog.

Researchers can view the finding aid on the internet through the new Archives & Special Collections library portal. The finding aid will also be made available as a downloadable PDF file. The finished finding aid will be approximately 300 pages long, with a detailed breakdown of all items in the collection and where they are located.

The collection, which numbers 307 boxes, is organized into various series covering major portions of Sam’s life and career, with materials organized chronologically within each series. The papers begin with Wilson family genealogical material before moving into Sam’s early military career, including his time in Merrill’s Marauder’s during World War II, his Cold War era intelligence work, and his time as an advisor and commander in Vietnam. Sam’s papers include thousands of letters, military records, and photographs as well as Sam’s speeches, personal writings, and family correspondence. Known as the Samuel Vaughan Wilson Papers, this collection is the centerpiece of the newly created Hampden-Sydney College Archives & Special Collections.

In April, the Esther Thomas Atkinson Museum opened an exhibit dedicated to General Wilson. The exhibit contains photographs and memorabilia chosen by Dr. Woodward for the exhibit. Among the items on display are Sam’s desk and Special Forces uniform, as well as many photographs from his life and career. Angela Way, director and curator of the Atkinson Museum, worked together with Dr. Woodward, Richard McClintock, and student assistants to put the exhibit together. The exhibit is free and open to the public and will run through the end of the fall semester.

In April, Colin Woodward and Ryan Pemberton held an online Q&A session to discuss the Wilson collection. The session was well attended, with many people viewing the discussion virtually. Ryan and Colin talked for about an hour, discussing General Wilson’s life and the processing of the collection.  In late May, Dr. Woodward is driving to meet Colonel Sam Wilson, Jr. at his home in New Jersey. Sam Jr. has additional books, maps, and archival material that he wishes to donate to the Hampden-Sydney College Archives & Special Collections. Colin will integrate the new material into the collection before the project concludes in June.  

Wilson Center Events 2020-21

In spite of the ongoing pandemic and our inability to host lectures, talks and symposia, the Wilson Center for Leadership in the Public Interest, in conjunction with the Office of Alumni and Parent Engagement, held seven virtual talks for the greater community this spring. Our alumni registered in droves for the Zoom talks!  We averaged 75-80 participants for each session and are excited to have engaged with so many alumni, parents, and friends. We plan to provide a streaming option for our in-person talks this fall.  

We began the semester with a fireside conversation with Dr. John Hillen, Wheat Professor of Leadership, and a panel of Wilson Center Faculty Fellows.  Dr. Jennifer Vitale, Dr. Viktoria Basham, and Dr. Hillen, both Wilson Center Faculty Fellows, discussed the need to teach leadership across time, discipline, and culture.  As fellows, they each restructured a course to include leadership theory offered to freshmen in the Wilson Leadership Fellows program.  Both Fellows also help connect the academic and co-curricular offerings at the Wilson Center to faculty across multiple disciplines on campus. Dr. Hillen followed up this talk with a presentation later in the semester entitled, “The Quest for Trust: Institutional Leadership and the Rebuilding of Confidence in American Institutions”

In collaboration with the Office of Equity and Inclusion, the Wilson Center hosted a talk with Sekou Kaalund ’97 to celebrate Black History Month.  Kaalund currently serves as head of Consumer Banking for the Northeast Division at Chase.  He previously led the Advancing Black Pathways Initiative at Chase-a $30 billion effort to combine the company’s business and philanthropic resources to focus on helping people of color realize their dreams through home ownership, increased savings and investments, entrepreneurial endeavors, and access to well-paying career paths.

Postponed by the ice storm, we held President’s Day 2021 in March.  Noted historian at the University of Texas, Dr. H. W. Brands, gave an informative talk about the presidency of Theodore Roosevelt.

Adam Christensen ’16 spoke about his exciting run as the Democratic nominee for Florida’s 3rd Congressional District.

In late March, we held a panel discussion on leadership in K-12 education.  Our panelists were alumni who currently lead independent and public schools.   Special thank you to the Rev. Dr. Anthony Sgro ’88, Asheville School, Timothy Beatty ‘97, Heritage HS in Lynchburg, and Harrison Stuart ’02, Episcopal School of Nashville, for their participation.

Dr. Colin Woodward led our final talk of the semester.  Dr. Woodward began working at Hampden-Sydney in 2019 as the Archivist for the LTG Samuel V. Wilson Collection.  Dr. Woodward spent the past two years organizing, cataloging, and digitizing the boxes of personal items donated to Hampden-Sydney College by General Wilson’s family.  More about this special and meaningful collection appears later in the newsletter.

Wilson Leadership Fellows Program Updates

Year One 

students in a church sanctuary with their masks on

 In spite of the precautions and procedures surrounding the pandemic, we were able to adapt and adjust in order to provide students with a meaningful array of events. Sixty-nine Wilson Fellows arrived on campus for the pre-term workshop in late August. During the three-day workshop, the guys hiked the Wilson Trail, completed the leadership reaction course and high ropes obstacle course, tackled a case study on the 1996 Everest Expeditions, discussed leadership vocabulary and development, learned about citizenship and statesmanship, and watched The Crossing and Shorty.  The semester began with an address from President Stimpert on the distinctive nature of our College and its connection to the founding of our republic. The American Shakespeare Center came to campus for an outdoor workshop on leading where you stand. Through dialogue and scene reenactment, the guys learned how to make the most of a situation and audience. We held a workshop with a facilitator from the Federal Executive Institute on personality testing; each of the fellows took the Meyers Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI) and learned how to engage with those whose traits conflicted with their own. The last session for the semester was led by Hile Rutledge ’89 who conducted a workshop on emotional intelligence. 

Year Two 

students stand in a semi circle with masks on

The Society of ’91 was established during the presidency of LTG Sam Wilson to recognize the spirit of selfless service and leadership of one of the College’s early classes (1791).  The goal was to provide student leaders with foundational leadership theory and practical skills. Sessions this fall began with an address from President Stimpert who focused on the connection between entrepreneurship and leadership. Fellows were divided into smaller groups and worked with a faculty member. Smaller groups had meaningful discussions after watching Lincoln and reading All the King’s Men. Cainan Townsend from the Moton Museum led a discussion with Fellows in Years Two and Three of the program about leadership in diverse contexts and specifically having conversations with your head and heart.   

Year Three 

students sitting outdoors with masks on

The purpose of Year Three is to help Fellows consider not just what they want to be after graduation but who they want to be. The Fellows began the year with a kick-off dinner and discussion led by small group facilitators. In September, Joe Dunn ’93 spoke to the group about his fascinating career and about making wise and ethical financial decisions. Patrick Wilson, Clerk of Faculty, gave the group a full lesson in Robert’s Rules of Order. Fellows also teamed with the Society of ’91 to hear Cainan Townsend of the Moton Museum talk about leadership in diverse contexts and communicating with your head and heart. Finally, Dr. Christina McRorie, from Creighton University, led a discussion that focused on moral leadership in markets.