“When CSUN’s Director of Intercollegiate Athletics, Dr. Brandon Martin, approached me with an idea to promote reading as a way to build leadership skills among staff, faculty, and students, I was on board immediately,” says Oviatt Library Dean Mark Stover. “I think what inspired Dr. Martin, and what brought me along as well, was our mutual love for reading and our recognition that reading books can be a powerful way to build character and model positive attributes that lead to leadership opportunities,” adds Dean Stover. The partnership between Stover and Martin soon resulted in the Read to Lead Initiative. The culmination of this ambitious project is a beautiful exhibit of photographs that are currently on display in the Library. In addition to the ongoing exhibition, the initiative is sponsoring a series of panel discussions with a number of the Read to Lead participants.
The exhibit includes 17 leaders from the campus, including faculty, staff, students, and alumni. The subjects are captured in photographs with books that have played an important role in his or her personal life and/or professional development. The large black and white portraits by photographer Lee Choo are displayed in open hallways on the Library’s second, third, and forth floors. The proximity of the oversized photographs in relation to pedestrian foot traffic means high exposure for the exhibit and its important message. According to Dean Stover, the goal is that students will be inspired by some of the role models on campus and be moved to read a wide variety of books that might encourage them to aspire to leadership opportunities. “Reading changes lives and helps all of us learn how to be better human beings,” says Dean Stover.
The selection of books highlighted in this exhibition is as diverse as the individuals who are profiled. Authors of note range from John F. Kennedy, to Colin Powell, to Anne Frank. University President Dianne F. Harrison is pictured with To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee, and on a card in a neighboring display case President Harrison talks about the positive impact of protagonist Atticus Finch’s moral compass. On another floor, Associate Vice President of Marketing and Communications Jeff Noblitt is photographed with a copy of Purple Cow by Seth Godin. According to Noblitt, “Purple Cow is a great merger of the practical and the theoretical. It influenced me as a leader with the idea of thinking differently, the need to stand out, the need to think critically, not follow the herd.”
The exhibition was curated by Oviatt librarians Coleen Martin, Susanna Eng-Ziskin, Felicia Vertrees, and Interim Associate Dean of the Library Lynn Lampert. The first panel discussion was held on November 18, 2014 and included University President Dianne F. Harrison, Executive Director of the University Student Union Debra Hammond, Head Baseball Coach Greg Moore, and Dean of the College of Health and Human Development Dr. Sylvia Alva. The Read to Lead Initiative will be sponsoring additional panel discussions in the coming spring. These events will be offered free of charge and will be open to the public. Information about these and all Library events can be found on the Library’s Exhibitions and Events page on the Library Website. The exhibition is accessible to the public during regular Library Hours. Please visit the Library website for Visitor Information. Parking passes can be purchased on site or in advance through the Permit Store.