Former President George W. Bush and Condoleezza Rice, Secretary of State (2005-2009), will top the list of distinguished speakers at Southeastern University’s 5th Annual National Leadership Forum on its Lakeland campus next spring.
The March 8-10 symposium will feature separate addresses from both President Bush and Dr. Rice before the pair team up for a discussion that will be titled “Teamwork at the Highest Level.”
The National Leadership Forum draws some of the nation’s leading experts on leadership to the university’s campus each year for three days of challenging and inspirational teaching with a unique emphasis on servant leadership – one of the foundational principles of the university. Servant leadership operates under the paradigm that the best leaders are those who seek first to serve and then to lead.
This will be Mr. Bush’s second appearance at Southeastern’s Forum; he and Mrs. Laura Bush were the keynote speakers at the 2010 Forum last March.
“The 2010 Forum literally took the conference to the next level with the appearance of former President George W. Bush and Mrs. Laura Bush,” remarked Southeastern Chancellor Tommy Barnett, founder of the Los Angeles Dream Center. “Our country is in desperate need of leaders who emphasize integrity, collaboration and trust.”
“The 2011 Forum continues to ignite the passion for servant leadership worldwide by bringing internationally known and respected leaders to our campus,” said Southeastern Vice President for Development James. L. Davis, whose department organizes the Forum. “To have a former president of the United States and his secretary of state in Lakeland – on our stage, at the same time, speaking about leadership – will offer incredible insights on cooperation and leading for the greater good.”
Also scheduled to speak in 2011 are evangelist Franklin Graham; Super Bowl MVP Kurt Warner; former advisor to four U.S. Presidents David Gergen; Chick-fil-A president and COO Dan Cathy; noted leadership authorities Jim Kouzes, Barry Posner, and Mark Sanborn; and Forum veterans Erwin McManus, Craig Groeschel, Ken Blanchard, Mark Floyd, Jim Blanchard and Tommy Barnett.
One unique aspect of the Forum is the caliber of the presenters. “The speakers at the Forum are the kinds of people who are the headliners for a conference. You normally go to a conference with four or five speakers and you get one of these speakers,” said Andy Stanley, senior pastor of North Point Community Church, talking about the conference’s lineup. “The mainline speakers have been everywhere, and they can go anywhere. The fact that this many say yes to Southeastern speaks well of the school and the leadership of the school.”
The conference, which has sold out every year, is held in an intimate venue, seating just over 700, on the university’s Mediterranean-style campus, allowing audience members to connect with the speakers, to feel “up close and personal” with them.
The Forum was originally developed as an avenue for Southeastern University to interweave students’ educational experiences with exposure to the teachings of world-class leaders. However, the Forum quickly developed into much more than that. Past participants have come from across the U.S. and several countries and represent a balanced mix of corporate, nonprofit and church leaders who aspire to lead their organizations with integrity. Students continue to be an integral part of the conference and are able to earn college credit for their participation in the Forum.
Each September Southeastern University provides a webcast of the National Leadership Forum. Davis explained, “We are committed to expanding the global reach of the servant leadership message. The Forum webcast is a collaborative effort with our presenters that broadens the scope of our core university ideals to literally tens upon thousands of viewers.”
“Southeastern University is one of the few organizations that understands how to do leadership development for both the Christian and the business community,” said Bill Hybels, senior pastor of Willow Creek Community Church.
Barnett explained it this way, “The Forum is a time when we bring together the most informed people in the world to pour out that information to the hearts of people. It is not just information; it is very heartfelt. It is a time where we can stop and reflect for three days and let these men and women pour out the wonderful knowledge God has given them.”
“These are not just talented people with great content,” said Craig Groeschel, senior pastor of LifeChurch.tv, “but they are great people with a heart for integrity.”
Those thoughts are echoed by Ken Blanchard, author of The One-Minute Manager. “I am a big fan of Southeastern’s Leadership Forum,” Blanchard said. “So many leadership conferences want to get you in the head. While you have a lot of new information, what I love [about the Forum] is we are really getting at people’s hearts.”
“I don’t know how many men and women I have talked to over the past four years who have told me their life was literally transformed at Southeastern University’s leadership conference,” said Barnett. “It’s exciting to hear about the businesses and churches that have been impacted through the Forum.”
Forum tickets may be purchased at www.seuleadershipforum.com. Sponsors for the 2011 Forum include APAC Southeast, Chick-fil-A, Convoy of Hope, Lakeland Automall, Peterson & Myers, P.A., The Ruthvens and Truline Industries.
In previous years, Forum speakers have included Gen. Colin L. Powell, USA (Ret.), Indianapolis Colts football coach Tony Dungy, former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, and former General Electric chairman and CEO Jack Welch.
Southeastern University, the world’s largest Assemblies of God educational institution, celebrates its 75th Anniversary this year. With almost 3,000 students and more than 400 employees, it is a private, liberal arts school accredited to offer 44 programs leading to bachelor’s degrees and eight programs leading to master’s degrees. For more information, call (863) 667-5000 or visit the website at www.seuniversity.edu.