About the Institute

Mission | VisionFAQ | Contact Us

The Grace E. Harris Leadership Institute was established in May 1999 by the Board of Visitors at Virginia Commonwealth University in honor of Grace E. Harris, Ph.D., upon her retirement from the position of provost and vice president for academic affairs. Harris served the university for more than 40 years in the roles of faculty member, dean, vice provost, provost and vice president for academic affairs, and acting president, becoming the highest-ranking woman and highest-ranking African American in VCU’s history. Following her retirement as provost, Harris served as a distinguished professor in the Center for Public Policy and led the Grace E. Harris Leadership Institute.

The Institute develops and implements programs based on principles of collaboration and partnership. Other unique features include its strong theoretical grounding in the concept of transformational leadership, its commitment to long-term relationships with clients and participants, and its focus on leadership in academic and community settings. The Institute also conducts research and disseminates knowledge on the best practices in leadership.


The Grace E. Harris Leadership Institute promotes the development of current and emerging leaders in academic institutions; other public, private and nonprofit organizations; and communities.

Consistent with the mission of VCU, the institute is committed to identifying and nurturing the next generation of leaders through leadership training and public policy research.


The Grace E. Harris Leadership Institute will be recognized throughout the region as the premier provider of leadership development programs for its:

  • Adherence to the principles of leadership exhibited by Grace E. Harris, Ph.D., based on collaboration and instituting leadership — envisioning a brighter future
  • Creating a learning environment, building collaborative partnerships and strengthening the commitment to results
  • Commitment to long-term relationships with clients and participants
  • Promotion of action-oriented transformational leadership

Frequently Asked Questions

What distinguishes the Grace E. Harris Leadership Institute from other leadership centers and training programs?

The vision for the institute is based on the leadership style of Grace E. Harris, Ph.D., and is one that values personal relationships and decisive decision-making. Harris utilized transformative leadership values and was committed to social equity and hearing all voices in her leadership roles within Virginia Commonwealth University and the Richmond community. The Grace E. Harris Leadership Institute is dedicated to the leadership development of current and emerging leaders in academic institutions; other public, private and nonprofit organizations; and communities. The institute bridges personal and professional leadership development by stressing that the improvement of leadership skills, behaviors, competencies and practices requires knowledge acquisition, professional skill development and feedback. The foundation for all of the institute's programs is:

  • Building collaborative partnerships
  • Creating a learning environment
  • Envisioning a brighter future
  • Strengthening the commitment to results

What is transformational leadership?

Transformational leadership originates in the personal values and beliefs of the leaders and is transmitted to one’s followers by focusing on a common purpose that transcends short-term goals (Burns, 1978). Transformational leaders operate out of deeply held personal value systems that include justice, liberty, equality and integrity. It is a leadership style that involves empowering and mentoring those you lead by addressing their self-worth, helping them reach their full potential, and creating a sense of shared values and vision. The four dimensions of transformational leadership are idealized influence, inspirational motivation, intellectual stimulation and individualized consideration. Transformational leadership is a style that values collaboration, teamwork and personal empowerment.

What are the hours of operation for the Grace E. Harris Leadership Institute?

The institute is open Monday through Friday from 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. The institute follows the schedule of VCU for delays, closings and holidays.

Is there onsite parking available at the institute?

The institute does not have its own parking. There is metered street parking available on Franklin Street in front of the Millhiser House, 916 W. Franklin St.

Who can participate in the training and programs offered by the Grace E. Harris Leadership Institute?

Each of the institute’s programs target different participants. The programs are designed to attract people at different stages in their leadership development. Please check out the individual program pages to determine which program meets your needs.

Does the institute offer scholarships to cover program fees?

The institute does not offer scholarships or any other financial assistance to cover program fees. In the past, participants have been sponsored by their employer or raised the money to participate in one of the leadership programs.

What methods of payment does the institute accept?

The institute accepts the following methods of payment:

  • All major credit cards
  • Checks
  • Purchase orders
  • Journal vouchers

Can the Grace E. Harris Leadership Institute offer customized programs or seminars for my organization?

The institute can adapt its leadership programs and services to meet the needs of specific organizations and groups. It offers assessments that organizations can use to create productive teams and improve their work environment. The institute is also certified to provide executive coaching. Those interested in individualized programming should contact Nakeina E. Douglas-Glenn, Ph.D., director, at (804) 827-1169.

Do the Grace E. Harris Leadership Institute programs count for continuing education credit?

Yes, continuing education credit is offered. Please contact the institute for details about your specific program of interest.

Is academic credit available for participation in leadership programs?

No, we do not offer acdaemic credit for participation in the Grace E. Harris Leadership Institute leadership programs.

Contact Us

The Grace E. Harris Leadership Institute
L. Douglas Wilder School of Government and Public Affairs
Virginia Commonwealth University
Box 842534
916 W. Franklin Street, First Floor
Richmond, Virginia 23284
Tel: (804) 827-1892
Fax: (804) 827-1238
Email: gehli@vcu.edu | Web: gehli.vcu.edu