Meeting President Bush on campus was one of the things I had on my bucket list since my freshman year at SMU. However, I never thought that the way I would meet him was through a surprise guest lecture in one of my business classes.

jun-hoI am currently taking Professor Don Vandewalle’s class on Leadership and Culture in the Cox School of Business. The course is an evidence-based study on the science of leadership, and it utilizes interdisciplinary frameworks to understand what makes leaders successful.

When class started that fateful day, everything seemed normal. Professor Vandewalle began class by outlining the objectives of the day and asking us if we had any questions.

However, about five minutes into the lecture, our class began to realize that this class period would be anything but normal. We were told to put our computers and other electronic devices below our tables. Shortly after, former President George W. Bush walked into our classroom, shook Professor Vanderwalle’s hand and sat down on a chair across from our professor, ready to talk about some of his leadership experiences during his career.

Professor Vanderwalle led the beginning of the session by asking some questions tailored to the topics that our class was currently covering through case studies and in-class discussions. Near the middle of the class period, President Bush opened the floor to questions from the class. He took the time to answer each question asked and even stayed past the allotted class time to make sure that every student who wanted to ask a question had the opportunity to do so.

I am extremely thankful for the opportunity that SMU provided to not only meet the former president, but also to hear about his unique experiences and lessons learned as a co-owner of the Rangers, as the governor of Texas, and as the President of the United States of America.

-Jun-Ho Koh