By Megan Wagner, MH ’16
Irving Police officers are building practical leadership and management skills through a new training course offered by the Satish and Yasmin Gupta College of Business. The training began Sept. 23 and is open to police supervisors from the first-line supervisors to command staff.
The University of Dallas and the Irving Police Department partnership goes back nearly 10 years, and has included several MBA Capstone Projects involving dozens of UD students and several UD professors, including Affiliate Assistant Professor of Management Ben Dilla, Ph.D., one of the instructors for the Practical Leadership training. This relationship continues to grow with the launch of the Practical Leadership training.
The idea for the Practical Leadership training was sparked by the Emotional Intelligence course offered in 2019 by Associate Professor Emerita Rosemary Maellaro, Ph.D. Nearly 100 Irving police officers took that course, and UD received great feedback from the participants. Additionally, Maellaro shared that the students were “very receptive and participative, which made the quality of the sessions better.” Both UD and the Irving PD are excited about the new agreement and training partnership.
Gupta College’s Manager of Executive Education Jenn Howard further explained how the agreement came about: “UD Police Chief Russ Greene opened the door for a conversation with Chief Jeff Spivey of the Irving Police Department.” Together, UD and the City of Irving were able to develop a new partnership to offer what Spivey wanted in a leadership course for his officers in supervisory roles.
“I admire that Chief Spivey is proactive and forward thinking with regard to developing the competencies of the department’s leadership team; it has been a pleasure to work with him and his assistant chiefs to implement these training programs,” said Maellaro.
Spivey believes education is an important piece of leadership development.
“Having a world-class university in our backyard and not taking advantage of it would be negligent,” he said. “The partnership with UD during the MBA Capstone projects really opened our eyes and helped us see ways to get outside the walls of law enforcement to offer training. As we have seen in the past 18 months, things can change rapidly. We must have strong leadership in place to guide our department and community through rapid change. Making sure we are training the leaders of the future is something I am committed to doing.”
He added, “My hope is that the participants in Practical Leadership can take nuggets of wisdom from the classroom to apply to their own leadership. Leadership qualities transcend professions.”
According to the training agreement between UD and the City of Irving on behalf of the Irving Police Department, the cohort size in Practical Leadership is set as 5-25 individuals; the first cohort includes 25 Irving police officers. UD will award an Executive Education Certificate to each participant who completes the Practical Leadership training. The training agreement goes on to outline additional details of the course: The program cycle is four months in length and includes eight modules. The modules are experiential in nature, including one in-person day per month, which is supplemented by an online component.
Maellaro explained, “These assignments increase the transfer of learning and help the lessons stick so that the practical skills are incorporated into their job.” Maellaro and Dilla will each lead four of the eight modules. Their styles, backgrounds and experience make them an excellent pairing of instructors for Practical Leadership.
Some areas of focus in the curriculum include: transitioning from individual contributor to manager to leader; discovering your strengths; leading successful teams; maximizing relationships; and coaching. The participants will be assigned one book to read about leadership or teams for each of the four in-person class days. They will also complete one or two self-assessments such as CliftonStrengths and the Team Player Attitudes Assessment before each in-person class. In the final session, they will develop their own “Next Steps” leadership plan.
Dilla and Maellaro hope that this Practical Leadership training will give officers insight into their own strengths and leadership styles and will provide practical ways to apply their leadership skills in their current and future roles.
Dilla concluded, “First responders are so important to our communities, so it’s a real privilege to have the opportunity to get to work with leaders in that area and help support them in their ongoing leadership development.”
UD hopes to be able to expand leadership offerings in the future to other departments in the City of Irving and to other cities. Gupta College of Business Dean and Professor of Cybersecurity Brett Landry, Ph.D., CISSP, said, “Leadership is a key component of all of our business programs at the University of Dallas, and we are glad to share our expertise with the Irving Police Department. We are looking forward to extending practical leadership training to additional agencies across the City of Irving.”
UD’s partnership with the City of Irving extends to other facets of the campus community, including a student-led initiative called The Big Event on Saturday, Nov. 6. This community service event, organized by Aubrey Weiburg in coordination with Keep Irving Beautiful, gives students, faculty, staff and alumni an opportunity to serve Irving residents in need of outdoor work — from painting to gardening and general clean-up work.