News from the Aurora University community

Spartan Spotlight: Mary Tarling, Director of Servant Leadership

Posted by on November 11, 2011

Mary Tarling

Mary Tarling received the Illinois CPA Society's 2011 Outstanding Educator Award this fall.

Mary Tarling directs the Servant Leadership Initiative at Aurora University and teaches courses on accounting, servant leadership and social entrepreneurship. In 2011, she received the Illinois CPA Society’s Outstanding Educator Award for her commitment to the profession.

We asked her how AU students benefit from studying the principle of servant leadership.

How would you describe servant leadership?
Servant leadership requires leading in a way that leaves everyone and everything better than you found it: employees, investors, the environment, customers and the leaders themselves. It dictates a balance between serving the needs of the people in the organization and the needs of financial stakeholders.

How will AU undergraduates benefit from studying servant leadership?
Students come to college to prepare for a career in a chosen field. Their experience is expected to impart the skills and knowledge necessary to be a successful professional. While what graduates will do is copiously addressed, rarely is much attention paid to how they will pursue excellence and sustainability. The undergraduate servant leadership program offers a minor of study to fulfill this often-overlooked aspect of the student’s education in any field; it addresses the kind of professional that he or she will be. The program complements and
integrates coursework from the student’s major and liberal arts courses, and requires a service learning component as well.

What role does international travel play in the servant leadership program?
Another alternative for undergraduates is the course Social Entrepreneurship: Servant Leadership in Action, which prepares students for the culminating service mission trip during May Term. The travel experience provides an incomparable lab in which to practice and understand servant leadership. It drops students quickly into an environment where human service is lifted above the boundaries of language and cultural norms.

What do you enjoy most about teaching at AU?
I most enjoy the challenge and mystery of teaching. You never really know what each student will need from you in order to engage them in a way that works, but
a good teacher figures it out. Who has a better job than that?