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Annual Dirigo Leadership Conference hosted on Saturday in Memorial Union

On Saturday, Oct. 5, the University of Maine hosted its annual Dirigo Leadership Conference, a daylong event that lasted from 7:30 a.m. until 4:00 p.m. in the Memorial Union. Named for the state of Maine’s Latin motto, “I lead,” the conference is coordinated largely by the university’s Center for Student Involvement and is open to all interested students. Entry into the conference cost $10 for those who had registered beforehand and $15 for those choosing to register at the door. Such charges covered the cost of each participant’s breakfast and lunch, as well as their participation in a variety of specialized leadership development sessions.

The conference’s organizers divided the many leadership development programs into five specific groups, each with their own sub-programs. “Emerging Leadership,” for example, was organized with its own set of programs aimed to assist those with an interest in community development and student leadership. The Residence Life program offered resident assistants and community coordinators information and education necessary to enhance their roles in the residence halls. Students interested in presenting a program that covers important leadership aspects were asked to submit a proposal online by Sept. 27.

While promoting the conference, UMaine’s Campus Activities and Student Engagement explained that it “will focus on many different facets of leadership,” and that those willing to attend “will have the opportunity to participate in roundtable discussions, breakout sessions, hands-on leadership initiatives, and guest speakers.”  

“We have been very fortunate to offer an annual conference at UMaine,” Jennifer Desmond, a coordinator for leadership development within the Center for Student involvement, explained, “In recent years, organizations such as Dunkin’, the University Credit Union and the National Association of Student Personnel Administrators of Maine have generously supported us and helped us provide this opportunity for students to meet with other leaders and develop their leadership skills.”

“The leadership conference is a key event for the Center for Student Involvement,” Desmond said. “However, we also receive great support from Residence Life, the Office for Diversity and Inclusion as well as institutions from across the state that send students to attend the conference.  This year, we have students not only coming from UMaine but also [the] University of New England, Maine Maritime Academy, Eastern Maine Community College as well as a majority of the University of Maine system campuses.”

As the keynote speaker at the Dirigo Leadership Conference, Charles Lloyd, the president of White Mountain Community College, presented an address titled “The Persistent Mindset.” The presentation addressed how to be a leader with grit and tenacity.

“The Dirigo Leadership Conference is an amazing opportunity for students from across the state to learn and apply leadership principles,” Robert Dana, vice president for student life and dean of students, told the Maine Campus. “Today the call for leadership is loud and our students are answering the call with ethical and community-focused responses. Doing good for all people is a rallying cry for leaders and this conference will focus on the development of skills and philosophy that serve a leaderly approach to service.”

The Center for Student Involvement is located in Room 145 on the first floor of the Memorial Union and can be reached over the phone at 207-581-1464. 


“Our office is here to assist students in their leadership journey,” Desmond said. “And this conference is the kick-off to our semester of events.”

With the Dirigo Leadership Conference now over, the Center for Student Involvement is preparing to host its monthly series of leadership luncheons. The luncheons will begin on Oct. 10  and culminate with a final luncheon on Dec. 9.

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