Leadership Lab: Invest in yourself and elevate your ability to lead positive change at Sewanee and beyond.

What is the Leadership Lab?

Sewanee is invested in supporting and strengthening faculty and staff who want to lead positive social change. The Leadership Lab, a 9-month leadership development program through Sewanee’s Center for Leadership, is designed for up to 12 staff and faculty who care deeply about our campus community and are willing to go the extra mile to make this place the best version of itself it can be.

Participants are provided with books, personal coaching, professional assessments, and other resources, all free of charge. The key learning objectives for Leadership Lab participants are 1) greater self-knowledge: the understanding of one's talents, values, and interests, especially as these relate to one's capacity to provide effective leadership; 2) leadership competence: the capacity to mobilize oneself and others to serve and to work collaboratively; and 3) to facilitate positive social change at the institution and in the community.

Why do it?

It is an investment in yourself.
It encourages you to find your voice and empowers you to act.
It is a chance to develop close relationships with colleagues, both faculty and staff, across the institution.
It is an opportunity to collaborate with others to address Sewanee’s institutional challenges.

Those who have completed the Leadership Lab report that they feel more empowered, engaged, and confident, as well as have a stronger sense of responsibility and ability to make things better on campus. They also report an enhanced sense of belonging due to their stronger and deeper relationships with colleagues across the University.

Who is invited to participate?

Any full-time Sewanee employee-- faculty and staff-- is welcome to apply. People from across the institution and at all levels are warmly invited to submit an application. The more diversity of levels and departments in the Leadership Lab, the better for all.

When is the Leadership Lab held?

The Leadership Lab usually begins in September and ends in April. Participation includes sessions twice a month for 2-3 hours per session. The meeting time will be determined based on the availability/schedules of all the participants. Additional meetings may occur between formal sessions, as the participants work together on specific initiatives. There is also reading and preparation work required as part of the class; the expected time investment aside from class time is around 2 hours per week. Sessions are led by Eric Hartman and Karen Proctor.

What is required to apply?

This online application and the approval of your supervisor.

When is the deadline to apply?

March of each year

When can I expect to hear back about my application for the Leadership Lab?

On or around April 1. Due to the need to have a diverse and inclusive group of participants, not all applicants may be invited to join this third cohort. If you are not invited into this cohort, please reapply another year!

Who has participated in previous Leadership Labs?

So far, the following faculty and staff have completed or are participating in the Leadership Lab:

Cohort 1 (2018):
Andrea Del Balso- Office of Global Citizenship
Rachel Petropoulos- Facilities Management
Betsy Sandlin- Faculty/Associate Dean
Romulus Stefanut- Library and Information Technology Services; School of Theology
Amy Turner- Office of Environmental Stewardship and Sustainability
Bess Turner- Office of University Advancement; School of Theology
Elizabeth Wilson- Center for Leadership (previously with the Career Center)
Rick Wright- Dining

(Not pictured: Andrea Del Balso)

Cohort 2 (2019-20/current):
April Alvarez- School of Letters
Heather Brewer- Alumni Relations
Sandy Carr- Office of the Dean of the College
Sylvia Gray- Title IX
Colin Nelson-Pinkston - Student Life
William Shealy- Facilities Management
Heidi Syler- Library and Information Technology Services
Brittany Vaughan- Student Life
Jessica Welch- Human Resources


If you have any questions, please contact Elizabeth Wilson, Center for Leadership director, at elwilson@sewanee.edu or x1428.

THANK YOU for considering this important opportunity!


Here's what members of the first cohort said about the Leadership Lab...

"There should always be time in one’s life for growth, and my participation in the Center for Leadership Cohort 2018 was just that – a true investment in my personal and professional self. That investment was evident with reflection, new relationships, and a rebooting of career goals and direction. And the University invested in me too, with the time and instruction offered with my participation. It was time well spent!" - Rachel Petropoulos

"If you want to learn how to be a more courageous and authentic leader; develop a deeper understanding of community, and the University community in particular; uncover your life purpose and activate it; and connect with fellow employees from all parts of the University, then apply to be in the next Leadership Lab cohort. It is a significant commitment of time and effort, but it was one of the most important things I've done, both professionally and personally." - Elizabeth Wilson

"One of the best aspects of the program was getting to know colleagues from all across the University, including people I don't normally have the opportunity to interact with. To realize that we all have similar goals and similar struggles, and to have a new group of people with whom I can share challenges and successes, was very powerful for me. I gained empathy, understanding, support, and new friendships that I will carry with me." - Betsy Sandlin

Course Delivery and Experiences

Cohort participants engage in learning experiences that are grounded in the delivery methods noted in the learning plan and schedule. Participants experience elements of self-reflection, collaboration, active listening, risk-taking, experimenting, failing, feedback, and accountability.

Leadership Theory (LT)—Participants engage with materials from books, articles, and other source materials.

Leadership in Context (LC)—Participants are introduced to organizational areas of the University of the South as presented by administrators. These sessions provide participants with the context and vision for both higher education in general and University activities in particular.

Leadership Practice (LP)—Through case study, skill development, special topic presentations, and field experiences, participants consider the practice of leadership.

Selection Criteria

Sewanee faculty and staff apply for the Leadership Lab. The Center’s council selects each term’s cohort (maximum of 12 participants). In selecting participants, council members consider the following criteria:

Readiness – Candidates demonstrate how the program will benefit their leadership development and how they will dedicate the necessary time to fully participate in the program.

Collaborative learner – Candidates possess the ability to learn in a group and collectively work on solving problems; they demonstrate a willingness to share their own resources and skills with the group and the University community.

Leadership ability and potential – Candidates display behaviors that indicate they have the potential to grow in their leadership. These behaviors may include openness, responsibility, and accountability, demonstrated curiosity, strategic thinking skills, commitment to personal development, and integrity.

Level of commitment and engagement – Candidates demonstrate a commitment to—and engagement with—the University and our surrounding communities.

Cohort members commit to the nine-month leadership journey. Cohort members act through service in catalyst teams which provide opportunities to apply leadership learning to actual University issues and challenges.