Executive Leadership Institute

Developing Leaders Within Our System


The UNC Executive Leadership Institute prepares and develops future leaders identified within the UNC System. Broadly, the program’s purpose is to increase the ability of talented employees to move into System-wide senior leadership positions. Participants will be committed to and held accountable for active engagement with the program content, faculty, and cohort colleagues. The program is designed to deepen participants’ capacity to immediately contribute to the success of their institution as well as the broader UNC System. By building collaboration and partnerships among institutions through Executive Leadership Institute cohorts, best practices are shared and leveraged. In turn, experienced administrators will be better prepared for more demanding roles and/or re-energized in current roles.

Here’s how our first cohort responded when we asked what words they would use to describe their ELI experience:

Program Overview

World-class research and executive education faculty from across the UNC System will partner to deliver a challenging, engaging, and best-in-class leadership curriculum with measurable outcomes. The program will be delivered in three modules over 10 months, each designed to deepen expertise essential for success at the executive level. Program features include:

  • Interactive and experiential immersion modules delivered online and face to face at three UNC System campuses (UNC-Chapel Hill, NC A&T, and UNC Charlotte).
  • Leading experts from across the UNC System to provide content design and delivery.
  • Each participant will create an individual development plan with their executive coach.
  • A pre- and post-institute 360° assessment will be administered to gauge progress and provide valuable feedback.
  • Individual and small-group executive coaching sessions (outside of modules) to supplement and apply learning principles.

Benefits and Outcomes

  • This program is anticipated to increase retention potential for high-potential senior leaders – those who have the ability, aspiration, and engagement to grow their careers.
  • The UNC System benefits by identifying and developing the next generation of senior leadership. Retaining these exceptional leaders within the System invests in individuals who already have knowledge of System culture and the State of North Carolina, thus decreasing the overall cost of employee turnover.
  • A specific focus on applicants from Historically Minority-Serving Institutions (HMSI) will help ensure that a pool of diverse applicants is available for consideration for senior administrative positions. One-third of the seats in each cohort are reserved for HMSI participants.
  • On average, internal hires tend to climb the learning curve faster by possessing an understanding of culture and climate. This program will provide the development to prepare our current administrators for those future opportunities.
  • Program elements will be customized to provide a deeper dive into specific UNC System knowledge and culture. While in many ways similar to higher-cost senior leadership development programs, we will be leveraging the expertise of UNC System professors and resources to offer a high-value, low-cost experience to more individuals.

Nomination Process

A select group of participants will be accepted into each annual cohort of the Executive Leadership Institute. Each of the universities with the UNC System and affiliates will nominate 1-2 individuals for participation. Nominations will be made through each respective chancellor’s or chief executive’s office. The UNC ELI Program Director will determine the participant roster, considering excellence and the diversity of the cohort.


Participant registration is $1,400 plus travel expenses, to be paid by the institution.

Program Timeline

Cohort 4
Orientation (virtual)June 27, 2023
Module 1: UNC-Chapel HillSeptember 28-29, 2023
Fall Seminar (virtual)November 8, 2023
Module 2: NC A&TFebruary 8-9, 2024
Spring Seminar (virtual)March 12, 2024
Module 3: UNC CharlotteApril 11-12, 2024
Cohort 5
Orientation and alumni eventSept. 24-25, 2024
Module 1: UNC-Chapel HillOct. 23-24, 2024
Fall seminar (virtual)Nov. 20, 2024
Module 2: NC A&TFeb. 5-6, 2025
Spring seminar (virtual)March 5, 2025
Module 3: UNC CharlotteApril 16-17, 2025

Module Agendas

Module 1: Executive Leadership (UNC-Chapel Hill)

  • Self-Awareness
  • Values, Vision, and Purpose
  • Influencing Up and Down
  • Aligning and Planning
  • Data-Driven Decision-Making
  • Financial Management and Budgeting

Module 2: Leading Teams (NC A&T)

  • Building Effective Teams
  • Understanding Others and Motivation
  • Coaching
  • Giving and Receiving Feedback
  • Enterprise Risk Management
  • Leading and Adapting to Change

Module 3: Leading the Enterprise (UNC Charlotte)

  • History of North Carolina
  • Emerging Issues in Higher Education
  • Managing Complexity of the Whole Organization
  • Panel Discussion: Governance, Building Community Partnerships
  • Executive Presence
  • Media Relations
  • Crisis Communication
  • Communicating Strategic Direction and Organizational Asessment


If you have questions about ELI, start with our Frequently Asked Questions. If you have questions that are not addressed there, please email Lynn Duffy, Senior Associate Vice President for Talent Acquisition and Leadership Development.

The Executive Leadership Institute helps develop the skills and talents of the next generation of UNC System leaders. Experiences gained in the program prepare participants to take on more challenging roles or take the next step in their careers. The quality and diversity of the institute’s first cohort of graduates have made me confident about the future leadership of our university system.

Peter Hans

UNC System President