Executive Leadership Academy 2021–2022 6/24/2021 6/24/2021 6/24/20216/26/20216/26/20216/26/2021 Washington, DC
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About the Academy

View the 2020–2021 Academy information.

The Executive Leadership Academy (ELA) is a yearlong program cosponsored by the Council of Independent Colleges (CIC), the American Association of State Colleges and Universities (AASCU), and the American Academic Leadership Institute (AALI) to prepare experienced provosts and vice presidents to become successful presidents or move to positions of greater responsibility. By completing the program, participants will have acquired considerable knowledge, skills, and experiences that are germane to the portfolio of responsibilities and activities central to the work of a president or other senior-level leader. Participants remain in their current positions during the program.

ELA participants in session  


The Need for Highly Qualified Presidential Candidates

Several issues affect future leadership needs of the academy: the aging of the current generation of presidents; the reports of search consultants that candidate pools in presidential searches are becoming smaller; the increasing complexity of the president’s role; and the reluctance of some boards of trustees to select candidates without prior experience in the full complement of responsibilities of the presidency. Those responsibilities have changed significantly in recent years. The president’s role as well as that of other senior administrators now requires an understanding of all aspects of the institution—from enrollment to endowment management and from governmental to alumni relations—not to mention athletics, fundraising, marketing, student affairs, strategic planning, and financial management. The president’s necessary expertise also has expanded beyond the institutional borders. Candidates with prior knowledge of and experience in the range of responsibilities of the presidency are seen by boards of trustees and search committees as better qualified and better able to assume leadership quickly and to have a positive impact on the institution.

I wake up every single day excited to have a chance to make a real difference by trying to fulfill our mission, despite all the challenges. Participating in ELA helped me to confirm that this was what I would find a passion for doing.”—Doug Palmer, ELA 2017–2018, president, Culver-Stockton College; formerly provost at Walsh University

​Approximately 40 cabinet officers, drawn from all divisions of the institution, will be selected for the 2018–2019 program—half from Council of Independent Colleges member institutions and half from American Association of State Colleges and Universities institutions.

Selection of participants will be announced by Friday, February 10, 2017.

Program Results

Since 2009, 100 of the participants in the ten cohorts that have completed the Executive Leadership Academy have been appointed as presidents or chancellors, and many more have advanced to other senior positions.

In addition to the professional advancement of participants, successful outcomes also occur when participants strengthen their leadership in their current positions or when they realize that they do not want to pursue a presidency.

The ELA experience for me was life changing. The opportunities it created to learn from national leaders and to gain friendships for the rest of my professional and personal lives have been unparalleled in my leadership experiences. ELA is definitely for those who want to progress in their leadership experience.”—Marcheta P. Evans, ELA 2016–2017, president, Bloomfield College; formerly provost and vice president for academic affairs at Our Lady of the Lake University

Nomination Procedure

Approximately 35 cabinet officers, drawn from all divisions of the institution, will be selected for the 2021–2022 program—half from CIC member institutions and half from AASCU institutions. Individuals who currently serve in cabinet-level positions are eligible.

To submit a nomination, please refer to the brochure and online nomination form.

The nomination packet is due by Friday, January 22, 2021. Selection of participants will be announced by Friday, February 19, 2021.

The ELA was a wonderful experience, and I would recommend it for anyone considering a presidency. The speakers were uniformly excellent, their presentations were relevant and engaging, and they covered a wonderful range of important topics. The opportunity to network with peers from other colleges and universities made the experience even more powerful and beneficial. The time for focused self-reflection was invaluable. The ELA definitely helped me to clarify my thinking with regard to pursuing a presidency.”—Mark Biermann, ELA 2018–2019, president, Blackburn College; formerly provost and executive vice president for academic affairs at Valparaiso University and dean of the faculty and vice president for academic affairs at Wartburg College
Approximately 35 cabinet officers, drawn from all divisions of the institution, will be selected for the 2020–2021 program—half from CIC member institutions and half from AASCU institutions. Individuals who currently serve in cabinet-level positions are eligible.

To submit a nomination, please refer to the brochure and online nomination form.

The nomination packet is due by Friday, January 17, 2020. Selection of participants will be announced by Friday, February 14, 2020.

The Executive Leadership Academy was critical to my candidacy for a presidency and to shaping my work, particularly in my first years on the job. ELA gave me patience in my role as a vice president to wait for those opportunities that I felt would be ideal matches, which Alma College certainly has been for me. I continue to reach out to colleagues who spoke to my cohort, asking their advice at challenging moments. And the connections I made with colleagues at ELA have developed into friendships of more than a decade.”—Jeff Abernathy, ELA 2009–2010, president, Alma College; formerly vice president and dean of Augustana College (IL)

AALI Diversity Fellowship

With generous support from AALI, CIC will offer a small number of fellowships to enhance the gender, racial, and ethnic diversity of well-prepared leaders of colleges and universities. Preference will be given to nominees from under-resourced institutions that otherwise might be unable to support a participant in the leadership development programs. Nominators should check the box on the nomination form if they wish their nominee to be considered for a fellowship.

Location and Costs

Two seminars will be held in Washington, DC, led by current and former presidents and chancellors as well as experts in key areas of presidential responsibility, on June 24–26, 2021, and June 13–15, 2022.

The program fee for the 2021–2022 academic year is $2,800. The fee includes all program costs as well as meals during the two seminars. The participants or their institutions are responsible for travel and lodging expenses.

Contact Information

For questions about the nomination process, selection process, or program logistics, contact Kerry Pannell, vice president for academic programs, CIC, at kpannell@cic.nche.edu or (202) 466-7230.

For questions about program content, contact Linda Bleicken, president, AALI, at linda@americanali.org or (202) 263-7488.