From the Chancellor

Public service, servant leadership & politics

By THOMAS KEON

Many of us, I presume, would embrace the notion that our existence relates directly to making our world a better place. Of course, the manner in which we do that can be defined, proposed and debated in virtually limitless ways.

Take leadership, for example. There are numerous leadership styles that have been applied effectively. One such style, servant leadership, seeks to advance the well-being of people and community by accentuating qualities of trust, collaboration, empathy and the ethical use of power.

Public servants? Or politicians?

As another Election Day draws near, I have contemplated how well servant leadership plays in the White House, the Governor’s mansion, or for that matter in the homes of any and all individuals who like to consider themselves public servants, but more frequently are perceived as politicians.

Is “politician” merely a synonym for “public servant”, or are there legitimate distinctions? If so, what are they? And, relative to public service, how much difference is there between a public servant and a servant leader?

2 NWI natives offer insider perspectives Oct. 9

For answers to those questions, I invite you to Alumni Hall, Tuesday, Oct. 9 at 5 p.m. when two Northwest Indiana natives with impressive track records in public service will share their perspectives during a forum titled, “Public Service and Leadership.”

Carolyn Curiel grew up in East Chicago and Hammond, graduating from nearby Morton High School and then Purdue in West Lafayette. Her career in public service has included positions as a speech writer for former President Clinton and as U.S. Ambassador to the Central American nation of Belize. She now serves on the West Lafayette communication faculty, teaching students who, as she puts it, “share one thing: a hunger to be involved and to affect change.”

Dale Pupillo was raised in Gary and also graduated from Purdue. He founded the Rap Line, now Gary’s Crisis Center for assisting troubled teens. A 30-year veteran of the U.S. Secret Service, he serves as special agent in charge of the Vice Presidential Protective Division.

I am looking forward to hearing their viewpoints about how public service, nurtured by their Northwest Indiana upbringing, has shaped their lives. I invite you to join me.