History: Higdon Student Leadership Center

Please take a look at the great article that profiles the Higdon Student Leadership Center throughout our first decade of serving the College of Charleston community.

President Higdon’s commitment to the creation of a student leadership center came to life after discussing the idea with former Executive Vice President for Student Affairs, Victor Wilson, who advocated the need to develop specific co-curricular leadership development programs for all students. After selecting a facility to house the program and hiring a director, tailored leadership development programming began happening at the College of Charleston in the fall of 2005.

Because of his efforts and commitment to the Center’s development, as well as his ongoing philosophy of the importance of providing opportunities for students to see and learn leadership traits and practices, the Board of Trustees officially dedicated the Student Leadership Center as the Ann and Lee Higdon Student Leadership Center in March of 2007. 

Lee and Ann Higdon met in high school, attended liberal arts colleges, and served in the Peace Corps in Malawi, Africa during their early years together. Lee worked as an investment banker for over 20 years on Wall Street before entering the world of higher education. Throughout his leadership in higher education, he has served as the Dean of the Darden Graduate School of Business Administration at the University of Virginia, president of Babson College, president of the College of Charleston, and currently serves as the president of Connecticut College. Ann serves on the Gibbes Museum of Art, Florence Griswold Museum, CofC School of the Arts, and the CofC School of Education, Health, and Human Performance advisory boards.

Since leaving the College of Charleston, Ann and Lee Higdon have been actively involved in supporting the Leadership Center through scholarships for incoming minority students who want to attend our summer leadership program Cougar Excursion and visiting the Center anytime they are back in Charleston. In March of 2010, many of our currently enrolled students had the opportunity to spend several hours with Ann and Lee Higdon as they were “guests of honor” at a reception and evening program. Former President Higdon observed: “I was very impressed with the students and their questions during our visit in March. They are clearly well-attuned to their own leadership style, and are looking to improve. It was a nice group and I think Ann and I are looking forward to more interactions with the students.” 

We thank them both for their continued support and interest in helping to create opportunities for students to see, learn, and practice leadership traits that will enhance any life experience or career path they choose.

“Leaders are constant learners who continually challenge assumptions. They don’t think in conventional, linear terms; instead, they excel in thinking at higher levels of complexity. They see opportunities where others don’t. Once they see an opportunity, they seize it, act upon it, and marshal the necessary resources to successfully execute it as a holistic plan. In other words, these individuals not only sense and define a particular need; they energize others and assemble a team that can create a solution for that need, and they create value in any institution.”  -Leo I. Higdon Jr., former College of Charleston President.