ECU News Services

Virginia Hardy, left, vice provost for Student Affairs, and Rick Niswander, dean of the College of Business, chat during the celebration for graduates of the 2009 class of the Chancellor’s Leadership Academy. (Contributed photo)

Chancellor’s Leadership Academy ready to roll in 2011

By Chris Stansbury

The East Carolina University Chancellor’s Leadership Academy is accepting nominations for the spring 2011 program.

Open to all ECU faculty and staff, the program provides skills enrichment during a 10-week period, with a curriculum that focuses on administrative leadership development, strategic planning in higher education and personal growth to advance one’s career.

The program also offers participants a better understanding of the university and higher education in general, all through the leadership lens. Sessions are conducted by campus leaders, including Chancellor Steve Ballard, Provost Marilyn Sheerer, Vice Provost for Student Affairs Virginia Hardy, Associate Provost Austin Bunch, University Attorney Donna Payne, Vice Chancellor for Research and Graduate Studies Deirdre Mageean and former CLA graduates.

“Anyone can claim that they are the Leadership University,” said Bunch, co-chair for the academy. “However, initiatives such as the CLA are helping ECU take leadership to offices all over campus, to the classrooms...and, most importantly, to our students.”
Co-chair Virginia Hardy said, “The need to prepare future leaders is vital in 21st century higher education.

“There are many talented people on our campus who would benefit from structured professional development to better prepare them for increased leadership responsibilities. The academy allows for nurturing those talents while building a culture of confidence as we cultivate a collaborative environment for personal, professional and group success.”

Launched in 2004 as the ECU Leadership Academy, the CLA has undergone a few changes since its inception. The intent remains the same – to build leadership capacity in high potential employees and create a society of effective, authentic leaders in the ever-changing academic environment.

One new component is campus-wide involvement by CLA graduates. Once participants complete the academy, they are called CLA Fellows. Fellows are urged to become mentors and speakers across campus, while also taking active roles with future CLA classes.

“The hope is that we are all learning as the academy progresses from year to year,” said Colin O’Connor (University Advancement), a 2009 CLA graduate. “That goes for those in the class but also the instructors.  We want to be able to take what we learn and collaborate with others and then share this valuable information with as many people as possible.” 

“It’s easy to get caught in our silos on a university campus,” said Paul Schwager (College of Business), a 2008 graduate. “Students only see one-third of what a faculty member does, which is the teaching.  However, it is imperative that we do everything possible to strengthen the other two-thirds – research and leadership,” he said. 

Schwager added that the academy is a great way to learn about the inner workings of the university from the top-down, from the bottom-up and even across disciplines. 

O’Connor said he took three significant pieces from the program that he still uses in his career. He said those elements included “learning to make tough decisions and think through all possible impacts, participating in a formal mentoring program and searching inside myself to see what leadership would look like in my own eyes.

“It’s an amazing experience which created greater self awareness and confidence, but I also gained a better understanding about what ECU is all about collectively,” O’Connor said.
Schwager agreed. He said the friends he made during the 2008 academy are still his friends today. Schwager said the program provides a great opportunity for people to communicate with university leaders about their career goals and ways to contribute to the institution. 

While all ECU faculty and staff are invited to apply, only 20 participants are selected for each academy. Applications for 2011 are available at, with a deadline for submission by Nov. 12. Also visit the web site for additional details about the admissions process, a schedule of events, contact information and a list of CLA graduates.


This story appeared originally in the Oct. 29, 2010 issue of Pieces of Eight. An archived version of that issue is available at