CIC Invites Nominations for 2021–2022 Senior Leadership Academy; 2020–2021 Cohort Convenes

SLA brochure coverCIC and the American Academic Leadership Institute (AALI) have partnered to offer the Senior Leadership Academy (SLA) since 2010. Directed by AALI President Linda Bleicken, the SLA prepares mid-level administrators for vice presidencies and other senior administrative posts at independent colleges and universities.

The yearlong program consists of multiple elements that reinforce one another to provide participants a valuable professional development experience. SLA participants receive mentorship from a senior colleague at their institution and the SLA program director and engage in a fall seminar held in conjunction with CIC’s Institute for Chief Academic Officers (see below) and a spring seminar in Washington, DC. In addition, experiential activities continue throughout the year to promote professional growth and cohort development.

Alumni of the program note that the SLA provides guidance to help participants reach career goals and succeed in the new positions. Michael Marshall, Bellarmine University (KY) vice president for enrollment, marketing, and communication and an alumnus of the 2018–2019 SLA, reflected on the experience, “The Senior Leadership Academy had a profound effect on me. This distinctive experience allowed me to establish a robust plan that exposed me to rich and meaningful experiential learning and to expand my professional network with those in academic and administrative leadership positions. Additionally, the program’s structure provided a safe and healthy space to discuss big ideas, emerging trends, and leadership opportunities within higher education. The SLA guidance and networking positioned me well to transition to my current vice presidency, which I assumed toward the conclusion of the program. To that end, I wholeheartedly recommend SLA to anyone with a desire to advance and thrive as a higher-education senior administrator.” Marshall was previously associate vice president for enrollment of Clark Atlanta University (GA).

Up to 30 participants from CIC member institutions will be selected for the 2021–2022 program. Participants must be nominated by their vice presidential supervisor or president, with nomination packets due by February 12, 2021.

More information and the nomination form are available on the program web page. For questions about the nomination process, selection process, or program logistics, contact Kerry Pannell, CIC vice president for academic programs, at

2020–2021 Senior Leadership Academy Holds Virtual Opening Seminar

Academic organizations across higher education have adapted to new circumstances in 2020, and the Senior Leadership Academy (SLA) is no exception. This year’s SLA opening seminar was held virtually for the first time. The 2020–2021 cohort met online November 6–7, 2020, in conjunction with CIC’s Institute for Chief Academic Officers and Academic Team Members.

Directed by AALI President Linda Bleicken, the opening seminar retained successful features of previous meetings and introduced new activities enhanced by the online platform. In preparing for the seminar, Bleicken consulted with technology experts to ensure a dynamic participant experience. She noted, “Working with an instructional designer to convert in-person activities into the virtual realm has helped us enhance engagement for SLA participants.” Breakout rooms and whiteboards supported virtual collaboration as groups wrote and revised statements about what they anticipated they could accomplish during their time together in the program.

Opening seminar session speakers adapted well to presenting in the virtual format. Kalamazoo College (MI) President Jorge Gonzales shared his career journey, coordinated a lively discussion, and inspired participants to think of themselves as leaders despite all the barriers they may see to their forward progress. CIC President Richard Ekman noted that adaptation has prevailed throughout the history of higher education, and that strong leadership is crucial during times of uncertainty. In a session focused on vocation in higher education administration, Renee Cramer, professor of law, politics, and society at Drake University (IA), and Brooke Kiener, associate provost of Whitworth University (WA), led participants in an exercise to reflect on their career goals and connect them to their core personal values. Together these sessions provided inspiration and concrete steps that can lead to advancement in administrative positions in higher education.

Among the SLA group this year are 39 participants who serve in mid-level administrative positions in academic affairs; accreditation, assessment, and institutional research; advancement; student life; and spiritual life. In addition to the sessions noted above, the seminar included intensive work on curriculum vitae and professional experience plans as well as a virtual reception with past SLA and Executive Leadership Academy participants.

The SLA program continues with meetings throughout the spring. The SLA closing seminar will be held June 17–19, 2021.