VCU Leadership Development Program

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The Virginia Commonwealth University Leadership Development Program is a 10-month program designed to enhance the knowledge, skills, and experience of current and emerging leaders at VCU who represent the academic and administrative units of the University and the VCU Health System.

During this program, participants learn about VCU’s structure and leadership, address both local and national issues in higher education, examine their own leadership strengths and challenges, meet with a mentor from senior administration/faculty, and immerse themselves in team projects for the benefit of the University.

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Applications are due October 1st, 2024. 

Program Objectives

The VCU Leadership Development Program stresses that improving leadership skills, behaviors, competencies, and practices requires knowledge acquisition, professional skill development, and feedback. Therefore, the program focuses on providing participants with conceptual information, practical applications, and a variety of methods for enhancing their performance.

The VCU Leadership Development Program curriculum is designed to:

  • Deepen participants’ knowledge of VCU, its structure, mission, and vision
  • Build a sense of community among participants to strengthen their network of colleagues at VCU
  • Increase participants’ knowledge about higher education issues from state and national perspectives
  • Develop participants’ skills in leading others engaged in the delivery of quality services and programs
  • Enhance leaders’ self-knowledge to clarify their plans for ongoing leadership development
  • Strengthen participants’ commitment to sustaining an organizational climate at the University that is focused on quality, responsiveness, appreciation, and inclusion.

Program Highlights

The VCU Leadership Development Program curriculum has four key components:

  1. Development of professional leadership skills
    Participants complete an intensive leadership assessment at the program's start, including personality style inventories and 360° Feedback. Throughout the program, participants will examine how their individual styles and behaviors impact their colleagues and workplace environment. A significant portion of the interactive sessions and readings will deal with professional leadership skill development.
  2. Interaction with national, state, and university leaders on the subjects of higher education, the medical center, and the university environment
    Participants will learn about the challenges facing higher education institutions, specifically VCU. University administrators will participate in the program as panelists and discussants with participants. Topics will include a full range of academic, medical center, and administrative issues.
  3. Mentors and protégés
    Participants will have the opportunity to meet individually with a senior-level University leader. Mentors are encouraged to have at least four meetings with participants. During these meetings, mentors and participants may discuss leadership challenges, share perspectives on VCU, and/or focus on the participant's individual development.
  4. Team projects
    Each year participants work in teams to address issues of current importance to the University. Together with a team sponsor from upper administration, these interdisciplinary teams carry out a project during the course of the program. The interdisciplinary nature of the teams provides excellent opportunities for learning new perspectives and networking across campuses. Project teams also provide a venue for applying new skills and developing creative strategies for solving problems, as well as a laboratory for working in a diverse team. 

VCU Leadership Development Program Mentors

Participants in the VCU Leadership Development Program are paired with a senior-level university leader to enhance the participant's leadership development experience; foster university connections across professional levels, disciplines and campuses; support the growth and development of program participants by the sharing of experiences and strategies for success in academia; and provide practical guidance for dealing with professional dilemmas and career progression.

VCU Leadership Development Program Mentors are key decision makers within the university with social and political capital of benefit to the development of the protégés. Mentors who participate in the program are selected based on: their senior experience in a variety of university settings, diversity, professional background, their recognition as successful leaders, and their personal commitment to sharing their professional experiences in the development of others. If you would like to be considered for service as a mentor, please email our office at

Mentor of the Year

Annually, a "Mentor of the Year" award is given at the conclusion of the program. The awardee is selected by the program's participants and honors the mentor who has made the biggest impact on their protégé.

2019 - Susan Robb, Senior Associate Vice President for Research, Office of Research and Innovation

2018 - Meredith Weiss, vice president for administration, Office of the President

2017- Jihad Aziz, director, University Counseling
           Aashir Nasim, associate vice provost for faculty affairs, Office of the Provost

2016 - Mark Rubin, executive director of the Virginia Center for Consensus Building

2015 - Quincy Byrdsong, vice president for clinical research administration and compliance

2014 - Michael D. Davis, interim vice provost for academic and faculty affairs

2013 - Catherine Howard, vice provost, Division of Community Engagement

2012 - Martha Lou Green, special assistant to the provost for student veteran support

Frequently Asked Questions

Who is eligible for participation in the VCU Leadership Development Program?

Any current or emerging leader who represent the academic or administrative departments of the university or the VCU Health System is eligible for nomination from their dean or vice president. This includes administrative faculty, classified staff, teaching and research faculty, hourly employees, law enforcement, clinical faculty, and professional faculty. 

What is the value of the program to tenured/tenure track faculty members?

The program focus is on providing participants with conceptual information, practical applications, and a variety of methods for enhancing their performance. The VCU Leadership Development Program is designed to address six priorities aligned with the university’s vision for leadership:

  1. Personal development - Participants improve leadership skills, behaviors, competencies and practices through personal development and feedback.
  2. Professional development - Aligned with personal development, participants examine the ways in which their individual styles and behaviors impact their colleagues and workplace environment.
  3. University INsight - Participants gain a greater commitment to sustaining an organizational climate at the university that is focused on quality, responsiveness and inclusion. University leaders participate in the program as presenters and discussants.
  4. Higher Education OUTlook - Participants gain a greater understanding of higher education in the state and across the country.
  5. Team project - Participants develop a project where they work in assigned teams to address issues of current importance to the university community that align with the university’s strategic plan.
  6. Formal mentorship - Participants are paired with a mentor from senior-level administration. 

What is the application process?

To apply, you need to submit a completed online application form, resume/curriculum vitae, one nomination form from a dean or vice president. All required documents should be submitted by Oct. 1st each year. Applications can be found on our website at 

How many sessions are offered, and when are they scheduled?

The VCU Leadership Development Program is a 10-month program starting in January and ending in October. Participants meet for two consecutive sessions (Thursday and Friday) once a month. Typically, each session starts at 8:30 a.m. and ends by 5 p.m. 

What is the cost of the program, and what is included?

The program cost is $3,500. This fee covers all materials, intensive leadership assessments, overnight retreat lodging and meals on program days. 

Does the Grace E. Harris Leadership Institute offer scholarships to cover the program fee? 

The institute does not provide individual financial support. 

Are applicants required to be nominated by a dean or vice president?

Yes, participants are accepted based on a nomination from the head of their sponsoring academic or administrative department. They must file out this form

Do participants receive credits that they can later transfer to a postsecondary institution?

No, we do not offer academic credit for participating in the VCU Leadership Development Program. 

Do participants receive continuing education credit?

Yes, participants can earn CEUs for full program participation, but they must express their interest in obtaining these at the start of the program and must actively participate throughout the duration of the program.