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Institute For Leadership and Entrepreneurship

Cowan-Turner Servant Leadership Program

Our mission is to promote the understanding and practice of servant leadership at Georgia Tech. Our programs and activities make a positive contribution to creating a culture that reflects the principles of servant leadership.

The program at Georgia Tech began in 1999 with the establishment of the William B. Turner Chair in Servant Leadership (funded by the Bradley-Turner Foundation). It is currently directed by Dr. Robert Thomas and is housed within the ILE, a part of the Scheller College of Business at Georgia Tech. Dr. Thomas works in conjunction with the program's advisory board consisting of Mr. Joel Cowan, Mr. Blake Patton, Mr. Alex Gregory, Dr. Terry Blum, and Ms. Claire Christopher.




Robert Greenleaf believed that the key to creating a more just, caring and sustainable society was to raise the performance of our institutions as servants. He felt that our business, academic, governmental, and faith-based organizations could be a place where people grow as individuals, where they become healthier, wiser, freer and more autonomous. The Cowan-Turner Servant Leadership Program was created to promote the understanding and practice of Greenleaf's servant leadership at Georgia Tech. We do this by offering courses in servant leadership and social entrepreneurship, developing programs that help students understand how to lead as a servant leader, designing and delivering workshops and programs for faculty interested in enhancing their abilities to influence others, and supporting student organizations interested in learning how they can integrate the philosophy of servant leadership into their personal and professional lives.


Programs and Activities

Our Programs and Activities Include:


Overall Goals

2017 Goals

  1.  To create learning modules on servant leadership for Leadership/Management/Team building courses at
    • Georgia Tech
    • Other institutions of higher education
  2. To partner with Georgia Tech academic and administrative units to develop programs and activities that encourage behaviors and policies that reflect the principles of servant leadership
  3. To provide guidance and support to student organizations engaged in leadership development*
  4. To develop program(s) for students to provide them with a solid understanding of servant leadership and how to integrate this philosophy into their personal and professional lives. In this process, we encourage students to disseminate this knowledge to other students and student organizations.
  5. Encourage and support scholarly activities within Georgia Tech and other institutions of higher education on servant leadership.
  6. Ensure the sustainability of the Cowan-Turner Servant Leadership Program regarding:
    • Leadership
    • Administration
    • Organizational Structure
    • Academia
    • Finance

*Special efforts are taken to attract and inform students from the Columbus area


Cowan-Turner Leadership Seekers Servant


The Cowan-Turner Servant Leadership Seekers Award identifies Georgia Tech students interested in learning about the philosophy of servant leadership and how they can integrate these principles into their personal and professional lives. Students engaged in this program will participate in a two-day leadership retreat and periodic activities that will expand their awareness, understanding, and knowledge of servant leadership, as articulated by Robert K. Greenleaf. Seekers will have the opportunity to share their knowledge and understanding of servant leadership with others on campus.


  • Leadership Retreat: October 8th-10th (Fall Break)
    • Begins 3:00 p.m. on Sunday, October 8th
    • Concludes by 2:00 p.m. on Tuesday, October 10th

The program is open to all Stamps Scholars, students from the Columbus (GA) area, members of SGA, ODK, Alpha Kappa Psi, Freshman Servant Leadership Organization, and select student organizations. Applications should demonstrate their interest in servant leadership and articulate their commitment to sharing their knowledge and understanding of the topic with others at Georgia Tech. A limited number of awards will be selected each year. This is a one-year award; however, current Cowan-Turner Seekers are eligible to remain active in the program.

Those accepted into the Servant Leadership Seeker’s Program will have access to funds that will support servant leadership activities at Georgia Tech. In addition, there will be financial resources available to support activities developed by the Cowan-Turner Servant Leadership Seekers and other servant leadership programs at Georgia-based colleges and universities.