• Executive Leadership Academy (ELA)

    The Executive Leadership Academy (ELA) provides a unique leadership development program for senior cabinet officers who are interested in becoming university presidents. The program, designed and developed by a search firm and two national presidential associations—the American Academic Leadership Institute (AALI), the American Association of State Colleges and Universities (AASCU), and the Council of Independent Colleges (CIC) —offers a year-long program for senior cabinet officers from private and public sector colleges. The combined model provides comprehensive presidential preparation, as well as multiple opportunities for comparison and contrast between the leadership and presidential issues at private and public institutions.

    Program Format and Content

    This year-long program enhances the skills and knowledge of vice presidents and cabinet officers as they contemplate future roles as college or university presidents. The program consists of  

    • Two seminars in Washington, D.C. led by current and former presidents and vice presidents;
    • Readings focused on presidential leadership;
    • A professional Experiential Plan (EP) developed by the participant and his or her president/chancellor to be carried out on the home campus or another conveniently located campus as the participant engages in activities relevant to the presidency;
    • Mentorship by both the participant’s president and the program director;
    • Executive career coaching;
    • Conference calls with the participant, mentor, and program director.


    Approximately 40 cabinet officers, drawn from all divisions of the institution, are selected each year for the program—half from public institutions and half from private institutions. Eligibility is open to individuals who are currently serving in senior “cabinet” level positions where candidates will be eligible to move to the presidency as their next career move.

    Nomination Package and Brochure

    DEADLINE EXTENDED! 2016-2017 ELA Nomination Form is due Friday, April 29, 2016
    Download Nomination Form (pdf)

    2016-2017 Program Description
    Download ELA Brochure (pdf)


    I found the ELA to be among the most valuable professional development activities in my career. In addition to receiving pertinent information concerning the major trends impacting higher education, participants are provided a broad array of opportunities to network with colleagues who have similar professional aspirations.
    -- Harvey Kesselman, President, Stockton University                        

    An awesome opportunity to challenge your ideas about leadership while garnering knowledge about what it truly takes to be a successful leader in higher education - all of this topped with fulfilling networking and just plain ole fun!
    -- Laynie Barrilleaux, Provost, Nicholls State University

    The Executive Leadership Academy underscores the principle of distributed leadership - every quality that we enhance and any gap in knowledge, skill, or ability that we reduce or eliminate through the program prepares us for the next level while bolstering our effectiveness where we currently lead.
    -- Barbara Lyman, Provost, Shippensburg University of Pennsylvania 

    The ELA was a wonderful experience. The inspiring speakers helped me understand why I should want to be a higher education leader and how to lead successfully, from practical issues like budgets, facilities, and crisis management to communication and presentation. I also learned a great deal from the informal interactions with other participants who, coming from a range of institutions, broadened my perspectives. I’m now much better prepared to handle interviews and have the confidence that I can lead an institution successfully.
    -- Marten denBoer, Provost, Cal Poly Pomona

    ELA made us think about who we are, where we are going, and how in the world to get there. We tackled ideas of leadership, the university presidency, and managing both universities and careers in ways that were both thought provoking and satisfying. It was the best leadership program I’ve encountered, and I’ve participated in many. 
    -- Glen Cope, Provost and Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs, University of Missouri-St. Louis

    The ELA program assists you to fill in gaps in your experience, provides you with strong mentoring, and through exceptional speakers, guides you through the process of applying for a presidency. The best part of the experience is the networking opportunities you get from a cohort of energetic and dedicated people that are working through the same issues as you.
    -- James Klein, Provost, Southern Oregon University



    The program fee for the 2016–2017 academic year is $2,270. The fee includes all program costs as well as meal during the two seminars. The participant or his or her institution is responsible for travel and lodging expenses. Support to offset some of these costs is available to a small number of participants at institutions with limited funding for professional development.


    Faculty in the program include a substantial number of current and former presidents of public and private four year institutions, as well as provosts and other experts.

    AASCU Staff Contact

    Jolanda M. Westerhof
    Associate Vice President for Academic Leadership and Change  
    Phone: (202) 478-4649 
    Fax: (202) 296-5819

    The Executive Leadership Academy (ELA) is supported by generous funding from the American Academic Leadership Institute (AALI) and The Council of Independent Colleges (CIC).