President’s Executive Leadership Program

The President’s Executive Leadership Program represents a unique professional development opportunity and experience for selected senior level, campus-based administrators. Consisting of four seminars held during a 12-month period, the objective of the leadership program is to broaden participants’ understanding of higher education issues and to strengthen their skill sets in leading and managing a public institution at the university or system level. The Board of Trustees supports the program as a mechanism for identifying and selecting a diverse group of potential future university or system leaders, as does the President, who plans to attend program sessions and interact extensively with participants.

The specific goals for program Fellows include:
•    Develop a broad personal understanding of the expectations of a public land-grant university in the 21st century context;
•    Increase knowledge and awareness of issues and challenges facing higher education and the university;
•    Enhance management and decision-making skills within a shifting demographic and global environment;
•    Identify appropriate strategies in addressing key issues and achieving organizational goals;
•    Expand networking opportunities and resources available at the local, state, and national levels in sustaining the university and its mission;
•    Study various participatory methods and approaches in university governance and management; and
•    Understand change management and the roles of the appointed leadership, faculty governance structure, and the Board of Trustees in implementing change.

The program starts in the fall and continues through the academic year and into the early summer. Each of the four seminars begins with a reception the evening before. Please note that Fellows are required to commit to attend each session; tentative dates have been identified but will be confirmed prior to inviting those selected to participate in the program (Seminar 1: September 25-27, 2017; Seminar 2: November 7-8, 2017; Seminar 3: March 6-8, 2018; Seminar 4: May 21-22, 2018). Descriptions of the seminars follow.

Applications for the 2018-19 PELP program will be available in spring 2018. For more information about the President's Executive Leadership Program, please contact Sarah Zehr in the Office of the Executive Vice President/Vice President for Academic Affairs.


Seminar 1: Mastering the Relationship: The Federal Agenda


September 25-27, 2017 in Washington, DC

The first seminar in the series will focus on a wide range of issues impacting higher education and provide opportunities for participants to network with public and private officials in Washington, DC. An evening speaker will provide a unique perspective on the Washington scene and higher education within today’s legislative climate. The following day, Fellows will engage with members of the Illinois delegation and their staff on relevant issues. They will also visit with representatives from federal granting agencies to learn more about national priorities for research and scholarship. The session will conclude with a presentation and discussion on the strategies, processes, and procedures of our Washington based staff and consultants as well as the role of university administrators in moving the university’s federal agenda.

Seminar 2: Leading a Public University in a 21st Century Global City


November 7-8, 2017 in Chicago, IL

The second seminar will provide an overview of how a public research university connects to the global city of Chicago. Participants will network with public officials and corporate leaders, as well as visit a neighborhood public health facility and a not-for-profit organization serving immigrant populations. Topics will include economic development, health care, public education, and the role of a research university in an urban setting. Discussions and presentations will feature an emphasis on the role of university leadership within an emerging global environment.

Seminar 3: Strengthening the Public Partnership


March 6-8, 2018 in Springfield, IL

Located in the state’s capitol, the third seminar will provide an overview and consideration of key aspects of the relationship between the state and the university. Participants will examine issues associated with university governance and expectations in leading a state land-grant university during challenging times. Key executive branch and legislative staff members will join the group to discuss crucial issues facing the state and the university, with a roundtable de-briefing session at the conclusion of the day.

Seminar 4: Leadership and Governance of an AAU Research University


May 21-22, 2018 in Urbana, IL

The final seminar will explore the role challenges of managing and leading a public, land-grant university in the highly competitive Association of American Universities (AAU) environment. Topics will include working with faculty governance processes, labor union agreements, student groups, alumni and parent groups, and the Board of Trustees to move the university forward. At the conclusion of the sessions, participants will engage in a roundtable discussion focusing on attracting top talent in a competitive environment, stimulating research opportunities, connecting with powerful alumni, and enhancing diversity in the prairie.