Interested in becoming a leader? Here’s a PLAN for you

New Professional Leadership Academy & Network enhances leadership skills, appreciation for inclusion, institutional knowledge

Washington University employees with an interest in strengthening leadership skills, knowledge of the university and higher education in general, and appreciation for inclusion have a new PLAN of action.

Danforth Campus staff members are invited to apply for the Professional Leadership Academy & Network (PLAN), a yearlong professional development program intended to cultivate future leaders.

The program, which is under the stewardship of the Office of the Provost, will combine classroom sessions and “lunch & learns” to enhance the growth and productivity of staff and to provide the university with a cadre of leaders who can contribute to university-wide initiatives and projects.

Applicants, who must be nominated to participate in the program, should be serving as key contributors and ready for leadership opportunities within their departments.

Julia Macias Garcia, PLAN steering committee co-chair, says applicants should also show a commitment to diversity — diversity of thought, perspective and identity.

“As the participants strengthen their leadership skills, they’ll also develop diversity competencies and a better knowledge of ways to contribute to building an inclusive campus community,” says Macias Garcia, who is assistant director of Campus Life and assistant dean in the College of Arts & Sciences. “We know how important inclusion is to strengthening the university.”

Applications, which include a résumé and a nomination from a supervisor, are due by Dec. 15. A review committee will select 20 to 25 participants for the inaugural class, which will be announced by Jan. 15, 2011. See for specifics.

PLAN participants are expected to attend an initial kick-off session and two subsequent three-day classroom sessions (Thursday, Friday and part of Saturday) in March, May and August.

The PLAN curriculum is designed to strengthen participants’ institutional knowledge, appreciation for the importance of inclusion, and core leadership skills, such as strategic thinking, innovation and creativity, and project management.

Classroom sessions may address such topics as:

  • Coaching/networking
  • Communication
  • Critical thinking and innovation
  • Diversity and inclusion
  • Leadership styles
  • Program evaluation
  • Strategic planning
  • Curricular priorities – faculty and research
  • Role of peer data
  • Student services, co-curricular experiences
  • Admissions
  • University structure and finances
  • WUSTL history and culture

Throughout the program, for which the university will cover the cost of the participants, attendance at monthly hour-and-a-half “lunch & learns” with vice chancellors and deans also will be expected.

The training will culminate with group projects in which PLAN participants will develop strategic solutions for key university issues. Participants will present strategies to university leaders in December 2011, followed by a reception.

Macias Garcia and Gail V. Oltmanns, PLAN steering committee co-chair, hope that in addition to building and enhancing essential skills for the participants, that the program will create a network of leaders representing various areas of the university who are accessible to all.

“We hope that participants in the program will get to know each other, understand each other’s talents and abilities and then seek each other out when they need advice or are looking to collaborate on projects in their own areas,” says Oltmanns, who is an associate dean of University Libraries.

“We also hope that administrators will view them as a new group of leaders that they can turn to for planning purposes, helping solve a problem or handling an issue on campus,” she says.

For more information, e-mail, visit or contact Macias Garcia at (314) 935-8379 or or Oltmanns at (314) 935-9334 or