From both historical and contemporary perspectives, the education and development of future leaders has served as a core function of higher education (Astin & Astin, 2000; Burkhardt & Zimmerman-Oster, 1999; Council for the Advancement of Standards in Higher Education [CAS], 1999; Zimmerman-Oster & Burkhardt, 1999). This is evidenced in institutional mission statements (Boatman, 1999; CAS) and the recent proliferation of both curricular and co-curricular programs targeting college student leadership development (Zimmerman-Oster, 2003). The creation of these programs is consistent with research linking collegiate involvement to developmental gains (Astin, 1993). Further, studies have linked leadership programs with a variety of specific developmental outcomes including civic responsibility, multicultural awareness, skill development, and personal and societal awareness (Cress, Astin, Zimmerman-Oster, & Burkhardt, 2001; Posner, 2004). These findings situate leadership development not only as central to the goals of higher education, but also as a powerful tool for influencing student learning. However, research has also challenged traditionally held assumptions regarding the transferability of leadership models across gender differences (Kezar & Moriarty, 2000).
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