INTRODUCING: Leadership Circle pilot

PLEASE NOTE: This article was posted during the Leadership Circle pilot in spring 2014, so the information contained may be outdated. For all current information, see the Info for Students and Info for Faculty pages. 

“Teamwork is the ability to work together toward a common vision. The ability to direct individual accomplishment toward organizational objectives. It is the fuel that allows common people to attain uncommon results.” – Andrew Carnegie

University Innovation Fellows are rocking it! In a survey of 28 Fellows last Spring, students reported holding events, convening workshops, serving on faculty advisory committees, building maker spaces and creating venture funds. These Fellows reached over 9,000 other students. What was our biggest a-ha moment in studying these students’ success? Fellows who built the strongest teams were able to scale their efforts and create a structure that created lasting institutional impact.

That’s why we’re piloting a new program for the Spring 2014 cohort called the Leadership Circle. The Leadership Circle will allow up to 5 candidates to go through the 6-week University Innovation Fellows training together. Together, they’ll discover the assets and resources on their campus, contrast their ecosystem with others around the nation and arrive at new approaches to reach and engage students in activities that enhance their entrepreneurial mindset.  Supporting one another, and supported by a national network of peers, they’ll creatively experiment with strategies that ultimately achieve results despite the inertia that may exist in many of our environments.

We are calling for a team of interdisciplinary students including engineering and non-engineering students that stem from different class years (i.e., freshman, sophomore, junior, senior, graduate, Ph.D.) to apply today. Here’s what you need to know:

For future candidates:

1.   Recruit like-minded peers who are willing to serve as change agents to help expose fellow students to more hands-on, experiential and entrepreneurial learning opportunities. Working alongside one-another in the 6-week training, you’ll not only feel more confident and empowered, but you’ll have more fun in a shared training-experience;

2.  Have team members complete the student application and gather their Faculty/Dean letters of support;

3.  Find one Faculty Sponsor to submit the faculty application. The fee remains at the same $2,000 rate and includes a travel stipend for one Fellow to attend OPEN 2014. All five teammates are welcome to attend and we encourage you to raise additional funding to make this possible. To complete the request to participate in this pilot, the Faculty Sponsor is required to submit a letter of support from the College or University President (or Vice President / Vice Chancellor / Vice Provost).

For future and current faculty sponsors:

1. Pick your students. If you have trouble picking just one driven, passionate student that seeks to change the innovation and entrepreneurship ecosystem on your campus, you now have the ability to tap 5 student change agents.  And, if you are having trouble thinking of 5 students, just ask the one or two students whom you have identified to scout out prospects within their network or reach out to faculty and staff members around your campus;

2. Have the students complete their student applications and gather their faculty letters of support (not necessarily from the same faculty member);

3. Complete your Faculty Sponsorship application. In this pilot phase, we are not increasing the fee from $2,000, but rather requiring you to secure a letter of support from the College or University President. Check the box indicating the willingness for your campus to be selected for the Leadership Circle pilot. Note: The team will need to peer select which delegate will be sent to the OPEN 2014 conference in San Jose (March 19-22) or raise additional funding to send multiple teammates.

For current UI Fellows:

If you completed training and are a full-fledged UI Fellow (congrats!) that seeks to build a team, you may find student peers that want to join your mission. Start talking to students and your faculty sponsor about putting a new team of candidates through this spring training. Think about what you could accomplish with 5 new team members that have the opportunity to participate in the same training! Refer new teammates to the steps above, under ‘For Future Candidates’.

 To recap:

  • Each student must complete a student application, which they can request here. Each student must provide a faculty letter of support. If participating as a team, these letters of support do not need to be from the same faculty member.

  • ONE faculty sponsor must complete the faculty application, which can be requested here , where they can also pay the training fee. Please make sure to check the box that indicates your interest in the Leadership Circle and that you plan to send a President or VP-level letter of support.

If you have further questions, please post them below so we can share the Q&A with other visitors. We will respond in a timely manner. If you would like to speak to someone directly, please contact Humera Fasihuddin at or Katie Dzugan at  We are looking forward to a great spring cohort!

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