• Executive Leadership Academy (ELA)

    ELA new banner

    The Executive Leadership Academy (ELA) is a unique leadership development program for senior cabinet officers who are interested in becoming university presidents. This year-long program, cosponsored by AASCU, the Council of Independent Colleges (CIC), and the American Academic Leadership Institute (AALI), provides comprehensive presidential preparation, as well as multiple opportunities to compare and contrast leadership and presidential issues at public and private institutions.

    Program Format and Content

    ELA is a year-long program that 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 (PEP), developed by the participant and his or her president/chancellor;
    • Mentorship by both the participant’s president and the program director;
    • Executive career coaching; and
    • 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.


    The program fee for the 2019-2020 academic year is $2,650. This fee includes all program costs as well as meals 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.

    Nomination Form and Brochure

    The deadline for  submitting a 2019-2020 Nomination Form and supporting materials is March 15, 2019

    Click here to fill out ELA Online Nomination Form
    Download 2019-2020 ELA Brochure (pdf)

    AASCU Staff Contact

    George L. Mehaffy
    Vice President for Academic Leadership and Change 


    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                        

    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, Executive Vice President for Academic Affairs, 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, DePaul University

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