The Need

America needs leaders. Desperately.

It needs leaders who understand the dignity of the human person, the sanctity of life, and role of faith in shaping the social order.

It also needs leaders who understand both natural law and divine law, who have been schooled in the virtues, and formed in the truth.

And it needs leaders with practical competence who are capable of making the hard choices, doing the right thing, and sacrificing themselves for the good of others and the nation.

It doesn’t, however, just need those leaders in Washington. It needs them everywhere, in every walk of life, transforming both Church and culture as doctors and lawyers, journalists and corporate executives, artists and academics. That is the unique vocation of the laity: to transform the social order from within, to be salt and light and leaven in the world.

The Mission

Through the Leadership Institute Student Fellows Program, Franciscan University of Steubenville is committed to raising up a new generation of Catholic leaders who can do just that, recognizing as its former president, Father Michael Scanlan, TOR, once asked, “If Franciscan University doesn’t produce leaders for tomorrow, who will?”

Founded in 2011 as the Center for Leadership, the Student Fellows program equips a select group of Franciscan undergraduate students for the unique challenges of leadership in the 21st century.

The Student Fellows Program works to inspire students to fulfill their particular vocations to “renew and constantly perfect the temporal order” by fostering virtues, imparting knowledge, and cultivating practical skills essential for effective, lifelong Christian leadership.

The Program

The Leadership Institute Student Fellows Program is a three-year formation program open to Franciscan University students with a demonstrated commitment to service and leadership.

Student Fellows participate in weekly seminars during sophomore and junior years, for guided discussions based on texts critical to their formation as young leaders.  Senior year students complete a leadership workshop tied to their on-campus leadership position.

Through readings, reflections, self-assessment, and coaching, the program helps students understand and embrace their unique personal vocation as both a present reality and a future call to be discovered.

Student Fellows are required to step out of the classroom and exercise leadership as an officer of a student organization, a coordinator of a household, a resident assistant, a leader of a mission team, or another student leadership position on campus.

Student Fellows select a trained vocation coach from among faculty and staff, enabling each to receive coaching as they work to gain deeper awareness of their own personal vocations and build strategies for effectively developing themselves as leaders.

The program facilitates engagement with Career Services, providing practical tools from resumé writing and vocational assessment to etiquette and career networking.  Among the tools employed is the Clifton StrengthsFinder assessment to enable students to measure their talents and better understand their natural patterns of behaving.

Student Fellows are required to complete an internship or work experience related to their occupational interests.


Leadership Mass
An annual Mass offered for the initiation of the students in the Center for Leadership.

Student Leadership Conferences

The annual Student Leadership Conference provides an opportunity for students from across campus to gather to learn, reflect and pray together as young leaders. The conference equips students to meet the challenges of leading their peers and others, helping them grow as effective Christian leaders. Conference speakers have included theologian and author Fr. Peter Ryan, S.J.; Stephen Giordano of Day One Group; Dr. Scott and Kimberly Hahn; Fr. Dave Pivonka, TOR; and Mark Hart, executive director of LifeTeen.

Application and Admission

Freshmen may apply to the Student Fellows Program after they have completed at least one full semester at Franciscan.  Transfer students who expect to complete at least three years of study at Franciscan may apply during their first semester.

Additional information on the Leadership Institute Student Fellows Program and an application are circulated to eligible students each semester.

Questions regarding the Student Fellows leadership program should be directed to [email protected]

Center for Leadership Staff
David Schmiesing
David Schmiesing

Schmiesing was appointed as vice president of Student Life in September 2006. He graduated summa cum laude from Franciscan University in 1992 with a BA in history and a minor in mathematics. That same year he earned an Ohio secondary teaching certificate. In 1999, he completed an MS in education at Franciscan University.

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He has served Franciscan University in a variety of leadership positions, most notably as associate director of Conferences (1997), director of Business Services (1998-2002), and associate dean of Student Development (2002-2006). He has a long history of involvement with students, overseeing student leadership development and other programs that promote involvement in campus life and social and spiritual development. Mr. Schmiesing also serves as the director of the Franciscan University Center for Leadership.

Ronald J. McNamara
Ron McNamara

McNamara serves as coordinator of Student Leadership Development at Franciscan University of Steubenville, drawing on his extensive public policy and diplomatic experience in Washington, D.C., Vienna, Austria, and throughout Eastern Europe. A graduate of The George Washington University, with a BA in political science, Mr. McNamara held numerous leadership and supervisory positions during his career in public service on Capitol Hill, which spanned over three decades.

Josh Miller
Josh Miller

Joshua’s life work is about helping persons identify how God has uniquely designed and called them so that they can flourish and help sanctify the world.

This mission is central to his role as husband, father, friend and in his professional career in his roles as coach, trainer, speaker and writer.

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Much of Joshua’s work centers on drawing out the achievement stories of other people and helping them see the unique patterns of created design in them.

His long standing desire to understand and help people develop their unique giftedness led to an MA & Ph.D. in Philosophy of the Human Person. He continues to effectively integrate learning from this study into his coaching and consulting practices.

He is a co-developer of MCORE, the first on-line assessment that blends a person’s own achievement stories with established psychometric constructs. For the last 20 years he has applied his expertise in a variety of applications, including executive search, organizational development, and talent management.

Joshua also helped build The Center for Leadership at Franciscan University of Steubenville where he currently serves as Coordinator for the First Year Program and the Vocation Coach Program.

In recent years Joshua has become increasingly concerned that the Church’s rich teaching personal vocation has been neglected.

As a response to this concern, Joshua co-founded Inscape in 2016 with Luke Burgis, which is devoted to fostering a culture of personal vocation in the Church and for the renewal of Culture.
He is the co-author with Luke Burgis of Unrepeatable: Cultivating the Unique Calling of Every Person.

Joshua and his wife Brooke of 20 years are joyfully Catholic and have six dear children.

Discovering Your Personal Vocation
Interning with the Congressman
A Reception to Remember