Project Lead Provides Tools to Build Relationships

Project Lead Seminar 2023
Dr. Russell Jones, Arkansas Tech University acting interim president (center), and Project Lead seminar presenters Dr. Phillip McClure (left) and Michele McWilliams (right).

Seventy-four students from the Arkansas Tech University College of Business and Economic Development launched their fall 2023 semester by participating in a Project Lead seminar at Chambers Cafeteria West Dining Room on Sunday, Aug. 20.

Highlights included exercises with Dr. Phillip McClure, a facilitator and speaker based in Fort Smith, and Michele McWilliams, an Arkansas Tech alumna with more than 30 years of experience in education and multiple certifications in coaching leaders, individuals, teams and organizations.

McClure helped participants learn how to break down barriers and establish connections with the people they encounter on a daily basis. McWilliams spoke about the importance of trust in maintaining and enhancing relationships.

Project Lead is made possible through a grant from the Loyd Foundation, which made a five-year commitment to the initiative in 2022. The program was conceived by Kathy and Randy Loyd of the Loyd Foundation and Dr. Russell Jones, ATU acting interim president and the individual who established Project Lead as part of his duties as dean of the ATU College of Business and Economic Development.

Through Project Lead, upper level student ambassadors from the ATU College of Business and Economic Development are paired with freshman Project Lead participants as a means of increasing connections in support of student success.

“We want you to be engaged with the Arkansas Tech campus,” said Jones. “The primary thing we are doing today is connecting you to a mentor who has already been at Arkansas Tech and can answer your questions. They’re going to help you and invite you to eat lunch with them. You have shared interests. College life is a lot easier with relationships and friendships than it is trying to go through it by yourself. We want you to get out of your comfort zone, be social and build those relationships.”

Learn more about the ATU College of Business and Economic Development at