Ohio State University’s Department of Athletics has unveiled details about the new Eugene D. Smith Leadership Institute, meant to enhance the professional development of student-athletes.
Ohio State announced specifics of the center Tuesday. The institute “will provide leadership, character and career development for the over 1,000 student-athletes at Ohio State in order to best prepare them for their post-graduation ambitions,” the announcement said.
The university’s board of trustees approved the naming of the institute this past November. An OSU spokesman said at the time that a $1 million grant from the Margaret and Robert Walter Foundation would cover programming for the institute for its first three to five years, with the athletics department continuing to raise money to support the institute after that. The donors had requested the center be named after OSU Athletic Director Gene Smith.
The institute is already up and running, combining and building on existing programming including the Wolstein Leadership Academy and the Huntington Bank Bucks Go Pro program, a two-day professional-development career-building trip.
The institute will focus on three pillars: “real life” will focus on career readiness and workforce preparation; “live life” will address social awareness and educating student-athletes on relevant topics involving a team or the community, such as the power of a first impression, fine dining etiquette or financial literacy; and the “leadership” pillar will train coaches and student-athletes to develop individual leadership styles, learning from one another and other experts in the field.
The leadership pillar includes the Lead Like a Buckeye program headed by Urban Meyer, former head football coach and current assistant athletic director, for captains and rising leaders on each of Ohio State’s 36 varsity teams, the announcement said.
Carey Fagan, associate athletic director, will lead the implementation of the new center.
“We are excited to share with you a new initiative that we are so proud to have the opportunity to lead,” Fagan said in a news release. “Thanks to the unbelievable generosity of donors who are passionate about what we do, we have launched this comprehensive program for student-athletes to best prepare them for careers and life after graduation.”