‘You finding you’

Seton Hall’s Buccino Center again takes a top spot in HR.com’s LEAD awards with a program that forces students to move beyond their usual experiences

Seton Hall professor Michael Reuter, director, Gerald P. Buccino ’63 Center for Leadership Development, with a few of his students, from left, Taylor Cutcliff,
Megan Scime and Surya Makkar.

For the fifth consecutive year, The Gerald P. Buccino 1963 Center for Leadership Development at Seton Hall University’s School of Business won first place in the HR.com-sponsored LEAD Awards in the category of Certificate Programs with an Emphasis on Leadership/Organizational Development.

Michael Reuter, director of the Buccino Center and a professor of business at Seton Hall, said the center is getting a return on its investment through increased interest in the school. The four-year program matches students with business professionals who provide mentorships.

The students tackle assignments on topics such as tax implications of a proposed real estate development and take classes in leadership.

Michael Reuter, director, Gerald P. Buccino ’63 Center for Leadership Development

“They are taken off balance and out of their comfort zone,” Reuter said. “The gift of the program is experiential learning with business executives. They are in their first year pushed to their limits. You are not here just to take stuff into your head and throw it out. This is about you finding you and pushing yourself to see the world differently.”

The leadership program’s business focus differentiates it from other programs, Reuter said, in that students are confronting tasks that they will face in business.

Every graduate of the leadership center during the last seven years has entered their intended careers or enrolled in graduate school or law school, Reuter said.

“Businesses call for them,” Reuter said. “These guys and ladies are very special in what they present. And [businesses] want them.”

They are family

Surya Makkar is a sophomore mathematical finance and information technology major from Springfield. He is taking part in the center for leadership development because he values experiential learning.

Seton Hall Leadership student Surya Makkar.

“Now as I go through my second internship, I am not necessarily intimidated by higher-ups,” Makkar said. “I have … respect for them. But at the end of the day, I realize they are just human beings at the very core of things. When I was going through my search, I really wanted something that would prepare me for that exact moment when I meet the CEO of Bank of America this summer.”

He considered his Seton Hall classmates in the leadership institute a family from the moment they stepped foot on campus. He is still in contact with Seton Hall graduates as they work in corporate jobs.

“It is really amazing to see what we learn throughout our four years within the program really does translate into real life,” Makkar said. “Any given day if I am not feeling the best, I can go to Mike or anyone in the program because we are a family.”

About 246 Seton Hall students applied to join the Center for Leadership Development, Reuter said. Forty-six students were offered spots and 23 accepted.

Taylor Cutcliff is a senior from Springfield, Pa. majoring in mathematical finance. She expected to be challenged but was still taken aback by her assignments. During her freshman year, Cutcliff was majoring in biology pursuing the physical therapy track.

“When I switched to the business school, I wanted to make sure I was challenging myself,” Cutcliff said. “Being in the business school, I wanted to do the absolute best of the best.”

Cutcliff recalled being a sophomore walking into the freshman 101 leadership class and being confident in her abilities. “But I was completely taken out of my comfort zone,” she said.

She conferred with Reuter about feeling not equipped to succeed in the program, but Reuter encouraged her to persevere and she followed his advice.

“I learned the further you get taken out of your comfort zone, the more you learn, which is awesome,” Cutcliff said. “The learning in the program is a lot more valuable than some of the classes at Seton Hall. You learn what the real world is like instead of doing numbers or learning literature. I found it very valuable.”

Seton Hall Leadership student Megan Scime.

Megan Scime is a junior from Niagara Falls, N.Y. majoring in marketing and political science. Before choosing to enroll at Seton Hall, she was looking for a college that would enable her to grow beyond academics.

“You can go to any college and get a rigorous collegiate schedule,” Scime said. “For me it was about growing as a person as well. I got to talk with some current students during my interview and it felt almost like a home. I feel like that is an underappreciated part of the program. We are all people who are going to be successful and work hard. I appreciate having people around me who share similar values. … We can all be friends and support each other and still have this program behind us as well.”

Scime learned from many people starting in her freshmen year and benefitted from networking. “You have got to get comfortable talking with anyone in any setting,” Scime said.

Communication skills

Madison Schuchart is a junior from Mechanicsburg, Pa. majoring in marketing and information technology. As a high school senior, Schuchart visited Seton Hall and met Reuter and was struck by his passion for supporting students to achieve more than they expect to achieve.

“To have someone like him supporting you throughout your whole four years really means a lot,” Schuchart said.

Her greatest challenge in the leadership program is meeting with business executives and learning to be professional.

Seton Hall Leadership student Madison Schuchart.

“We meet with so many amazing people who are successful in their fields that it pushes us out of our comfort zones,” she said. “It prepares us better for our careers. It prepares us on how to present ourselves, how to communicate properly and professionally with them.”

Seton Hall appointed retired Army Lt. Col. Bryan Price to serve as founding executive director of the Buccino Leadership Institute. Price served at multiple levels of command in the Army, ranging from leading combat troops in Iraq and Afghanistan to serving as an associate professor in the Department of Social Sciences at the U.S. Military Academy at West Point. He is the author of “Targeting top terrorists: Understanding leadership removal in counterterrorism strategy.”

The leadership institute is based on seven pillars of leadership development: character, civic engagement, change management, ceaselessness, collaboration, conflict management and courageous communication. The institute honors 1963 Seton Hall alumnus Gerald Buccino, founder of Buccino & Associates Inc, a financial advisory and business turnaround firm.

Seton Hall’s Stillman School of Business started the Buccino Center for Leadership Development in 1996. The Buccino Leadership Institute was created by the university in 2018 as an interdisciplinary undergraduate leadership program based on the Buccino Center’s success.

“We learn about leadership in a multi-disciplinary setting,” Price said. “The only reason they decided to expand this program is because of the tremendous success that Michael Reuter has had with his leadership center. The thought process was why are we only giving leadership development to business school students when we can do more good by expanding the program throughout the university?”

Seton Hall beat teams from the University of Iowa, Florida International University, Pennsylvania State University, and Pepperdine University in the 2018 competition, according to Reuter.

David Hutter
David Hutter grew up in Darien, Conn., and covers higher education, transportation and manufacturing for NJBIZ. He can be reached at: dhutter@njbiz.com.

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