Widener Global Leaders Program to transform Wichita State students


A new, yearlong, interdisciplinary program focused on developing women leaders with a global, innovative mindset will start this fall at the W. Frank Barton School of Business at Wichita State University. The Widener Global Leaders Program, made possible by a gift from Peri Widener, is designed to create a transformational experience and foster an inclusive community for women majoring in business, communication or fine arts.

“This unique coalition of business, communication and music is an exciting opportunity for our female students and for the university as a whole,” said Dr. Shirley Lefever, interim provost at Wichita State University. “When our different colleges put their resources together in programs like this, our students receive a more versatile, powerful and wholistic experience.”

The Widener GLP will work to propel participants within businesses and organizations worldwide through multidisciplinary learning experiences, networking opportunities and mentoring from top-level professionals. Students in the program will have opportunities to develop business skills, communication skills, artistic awareness, a commitment to social responsibility, cultural intelligence, and a global mindset. The integration of the three disciplines reflects the skillset of Peri Widener, who utilized her background to thrive in the international business world.

“Some of the best business leaders I know have backgrounds in business, communication and music,” said Widener, who retired in 2017 as vice president and general manager for Integrated Logistics, Global Services & Support at Boeing after almost 40 years with the company. “There is a freedom, creativity and innovativeness to those individuals. I believe that intertwining the lessons from those areas had a profound impact on my career. This program will help create an environment for women to unearth their own leadership potential.”

The first cohort for the Widener GLP will consist of 10 students. Participants were selected based on their diverse skillset, interests, commitment to service and passion for community and collaboration.

The program will have three dedicated faculty members, including Kate Kung-McIntyre, business faculty lead for the Barton School of Business; Dr. Lisa Parcell, communication faculty lead at the Elliott School of Communication; and Andréa E. Banke, music faculty lead for School of Music.

Dr. Raina M. Rutti, associate clinical professor of management at the Barton School, will serve as its director. Dr. Rutti’s research expertise includes leadership, cross-cultural management, and international business.

The Widener-GLP will also be supported by an advisory board co-chaired by Peri Widener and Dr. Larisa Genin, dean of the W. Frank Barton School of Business. The advisory board will consist of a group of female industry executives and leaders who will provide strategic and programming direction, as well as mentors for the students.

“I’m excited about the interdisciplinary collaboration with the Fairmount College of Liberal Arts and Sciences and the College of Fine Arts,” Genin said.

“The Widener Global Leaders Program is an immersive opportunity for our students to expand their education, leadership qualities, communication skills, cultural understanding and social responsibility,” said Dr. Andrew Hippisley, dean of the Fairmount College of Liberal Arts and Sciences.

“This program will engage our amazing faculty as well as the vibrant arts, communication and business communities we have in our region. These experiences will prepare our students to become global citizens, innovators and transformational leaders,” said Rodney Miller, dean of the College of Fine Arts.

Read more stories like this