Building dynamic leaders for the future


Col. Cameron A. Leiker

“We’ve found that if you get to know your people and you get to invest in them, it’s a win-win situation. A win for the organization, and a win for the people involved in the organization.”

Those words—from a man who knows a thing or two about guiding people—landed on the ears of Emporia State University students attending this fall’s Sam E. and Jeannene Hayes Lecture.

Col. Cameron A. Leiker (BS 1990-Economics) currently serves as director of Human Capital Enterprise and Strategy, Plans and Initiatives for the Training and Doctrine Command Personnel and Support Element (TRADOC) at Ft. Eustis, Va. From 2008-2011, Col. Leiker commanded the Army’s largest battalion, the Headquarters Command Battalion at Ft. Myer, Va.

Leiker told an audience that filled Webb Hall on a Thursday evening that Emporia State already plays an important role in transforming young people into productive adults.

(Watch Col. Cameron Leiker's Hayes Lecture presentation)

“We can play an increasingly important role in creating tomorrow’s leaders. We are doing this through a great faculty and administration, coupled with a fantastic learning environment, and we are continuously seeking change.”

Crediting the leadership of Dr. Michael D. Shonrock, Emporia State’s president, Leiker said, “It takes a dynamic leader with vision who can establish purpose and who can motivate people to make necessary change. And I think you’re just seeing the tip of the iceberg of where this great university is going to go as it transforms under his leadership.”

For Leiker, the transition to Emporia State from Butler Community College in the late 1980s had as much to do with the community of Emporia as with the university. “Instead of first coming to the campus, I parked several blocks down the street, got out and started walking around.”

“I went into shops and talked to people, and I quickly saw the pride they had for the community and the university. So by the time I drove to campus, I knew this was where I was going to call home for the last two years of college,” Leiker related.

Returning to campus for his Hayes Lecture Series address this past fall, Leiker noted the spirit had not died. “When I came back to campus today, I had professors who 22 years ago were my faculty advisors meeting me in the hallways, saying ‘Welcome home.’”

“That doesn’t happen in a lot of schools out there. You are truly blessed to have the organization, structure and community that is here,” Leiker said, directing those remarks to students in the audience who were completing applications for one of five scholarships being awarded by the lecture series’ inaugural speaker, Doug Smith of Leawood, Kan.

Emporia State students attending either Leiker’s afternoon workshop or the evening presentation were eligible to apply for one of five $1,000 scholarships to be awarded next spring. Smith and his wife, Nan, provided funds to create the scholarships.

An El Dorado native, Leiker  earned Distinguished Military Graduate honors from Emporia State when he graduated with a Bachelor of Science degree in Economics in 1990.

The lecture series’ namesake, Dr. Sam Hayes (BS 1962) of Mission Hills, Kan., is past president of the Missouri Dental Association and is a retired Captain of the U.S. Navy Reserve. He served as chair of the ESU Foundation Board of Trustees in 2001 – 2003.

Hayes and his wife, Jeannene, established the lecture series as a way to engage Emporia State’s alumni in highlighting their successes. Individuals whose leadership qualities, skills and accomplishments have led to distinction are featured in each annual lecture.