20th Anniversary Celebration of the ILC

The Illinois Leadership® Center (ILC) is commemorating its 20th anniversary since opening its doors in 2002!

Please make plans to join us for our celebration on Saturday, February 25 from 6:00-8:00 PM at Papa Del's Pizza Factory in Champaign! Keep an eye out for the RSVP later this year!

20 Reasons to Celebrate...

#5 The Donaldson Gift

The Illinois Leadership® Center (ILC) received a $1.17 million gift from Jane and William (“Bill”) Donaldson. The gift established the Donaldson Leader in Residence Program, intended to bring impactful University of Illinois alumni to campus for a series of formal and informal forums, engaging with students, faculty, university leaders, and the broader campus and local communities.

This gift also established the Donaldson Student Leader Retreat, a comprehensive leadership training program for officers of registered student organizations. The Retreat is designed to provide these students with the opportunity to develop and strengthen skills and competencies to effectively lead a student organization; to see and value the importance of collaboration; to create a sustainable leadership transition plan for their organization; and to understand how to work with campus policies related to student organizations.

The Donaldsons’ gift will also support a pilot longitudinal study of Illinois graduates who have participated in ILC programs to determine how such participation is related to professional and personal success post-graduation.  Two articles will be published soon.


#6 Multi-Institutional Study of Leadershop (MSL)

The Multi-Institutional Study of Leadership (MSL) examines student leadership values at institutional and national levels with specific attention to campus experience factors that influence leadership development in college students.  We have participated in every iteration of the MSL study.


We now benchmark against several Big Ten institutions.  In the 2021 survey, Illinois students who participated in leadership training/education reported higher scores on ALL socially responsible leadership outcomes compared to Illinois students who did not participate.



#7 Scholarship & Research  

As clearly indicated in our vision statement: “The Illinois Leadership Center® at the University of Illinois seeks to be an internationally acclaimed provider of leadership education, research, and experiential opportunities for students.”

Thanks to the Donaldson Gift, a research team have been conducted research on recent alumni who participated in our co-curricular leadership programs. Two publications are currently in progress and will be published soon.

The research includes the following individuals: 

  • Kevin Wilson, Research Assistant;
  • Dr. Dave Rosch, Associate Professor, Agricultural Education Program;
  • Dr. Reuben May, Professor, Sociology; and
  • Dr. Gayle Spencer, Director, Illinois Leadership Center


#8 Faculty Fellows Program

The ILC Faculty Fellows program is designed to encourage leadership scholarship and interdisciplinary collaboration among Illinois faculty.  Each year, faculty are selected based on their scholarly interest in the field of leadership and provided a grant to pursue their research interests.  Since the program’s inception, there have been 13 faculty fellows, each serving in the role for three years. 

Since its inception in FY 2016, the Faculty Fellows program has resulted in approximately 20 publications, 37 conference presentations, 37 students employed in research (20 undergraduate students, 16 graduate students, 1 post doc), 1 externally funded grant, and 2 internally funded grants.




#9 Student Employment Model

Students are the backbone of our work.  We have Graduate Assistants, Graf Interns, Leadership Specialists, Graphic Designers, Photographers, and a Podcast Intern.

The current work teams are Assessment and Research (ART); Branding, Advertising, Marketing, and Outreach (BAMO), Education, and Certificate Team.

The ILC employs undergraduate students and provides them with professional experiences to develop their leadership and career development competencies.






#10 ILC's Online Presence

In Summer 2020, the ILC launched two new initiatives to expand leadership development opportunities through our office via online platforms. Both initiatives are managed by our student employees.

The IlliniLeader’s Digest is a blog for ILC stakeholders to voice their perspectives about leadership.

As of May 2022, the blog space has 76,677 total views. 68 posts have been published. 

The “Made to Lead” podcast was created to deliver leadership education in a fun and easily digestible way. Through interviews with prominent faculty, staff, alumni, and students from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, we want to empower our listeners to grow by hearing experiences and lessons learned from our guests. 

As of May 2022, the podcast has 1,768 total plays. 37 episodes has been published.  


#11 Commitment to DEI

One of the ILC’s core values is Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion. At the ILC, we strive to create brave inclusive environments that are accessible and welcoming to all students. 

Our programs are designed to engage students about and across difference, promote respectful dialogue, and create change for a greater good. We value the voices of marginalized communities and aim to challenge systemic oppression.



#12 Response to the Pandemic

In March 2020, the university shut down for the reminder of the spring semester to the COVID-19 pandemic. This caused the ILC to cancel all in-person programming until further notice.

Over that summer, the ILC staff brainstormed and created a plan to serve Illinois students when they returned that fall semester. I-Programs and workshops were re-developed to be delivered virtually, and the outreach team created pop up booths using push wagons to attract and inform students about how to participate in ILC’s programming. 

During the Fall 2020 semester, the ILC staff served over 5,000 students in a wide variety of opportunities. 

Due to COVID-19 protocols and precautions during the Spring 2021 semester, the University moved from a weeklong spring break to three non-instruction days which were February 17, March 24, and April 13.

The ILC partnered with colleagues from Gies College of Business, Grainger College of Engineering, Public Affairs, and Student Engagement to create events called “Illini Break 2021” to provide stress reducing activities and free lunches for students. Over 4,000 students were served at these events.



#13 The Leadership Workshop Series

Since 2010-2011 the Leadership Workshop Series has been a growing part of our enterprise.  This year, we are on pace to have almost 6000 students participate in formal leadership learning experiences through the ILC. 

What makes this initiative extraordinary is that most of these sessions are led by student educators; the Education team which consists of our Graf Interns whose primary focus is to serve as leadership peer educators.

All total, we have served almost 61,000 students in our workshops!



#14 The Leadership Certificate Program

Created in November of 2002 with an initial cohort of 40 students, the Leadership Certificate gives students an opportunity to learn about leadership while incorporating opportunities to practice it.

The first Leadership Certificate Completion Ceremony was held in May 2004 with 16 students completing. Since then, 863 students have earned their Leadership Certificate and 4836 students have participated in this program.



#15 The Cavenaugh Leadership Resources Library

In 2009, The Cavenaugh Library was dedicated in the Illinois Leadership Center. This leadership library consists of resources including activity materials, academic texts, and popular press books. All resources are free of charge to members of the University of Illinois community with a valid I-card. 



#16 i-Programs: The Foundation of the ILC

i-Programs have been the cornerstone initiative of the lllinois Leadership® Center (ILC) since opening our doors. Over the years the term ‘i-Program’ has become synonymous with the Illinois Leadership Center.
The ILC officially opened its doors in 2002, and the first i-Program occurred well before then. February 2000 marked our inaugural program, Insight. It occurred in Findlay, Illinois, at Eagle Creek Resort. Seventy-eight students attended this program, with a concentration on self-awareness. Because of the success of Insight, over the years, more programs were added with a focus on a variety of topics.
While i-Programs started being piloted in 2000, additional i-Programs were added over the years. In 2009, all i-Programs shifted to a one-day format. In 2012, to recognize the generous support of Anthony J. Petullo (Gies College of Business, ’61) and the impact he had in helping the ILC come to fruition, Insight, the ILC’s first program, was renamed Petullo Insight.   
Today, there are six active i-Programs, offered in three formats:  Traditional (six-hour program in person); Blended (3-hour online module and 2- hour in person session); and Self-paced (all online modules).

Since 2002, there has been 20,467 total i-Program attendees as of Spring 2021. 



#17 Illinois Leadership Inventory (ILI)

leadership competencies model  

As a result of the “Illinois Model of Leadership Education,” we created an online inventory any Illinois student could use.

The ILI is an instrument to help students better understand themselves and their leadership competencies. 

Students can go online to https://leadership.illinois.edu/ili/ to take the assessment.   When completed, students receive a report that shows their ability level (beginner-developing-expert) for each leadership competency.

The report also offers what Illinois Leadership Programs they can attend, courses in their college which would help them with that specific competency, co-curriculars on campus they can participate in, and resources they can explore to learn more about each competency.  



#18 Illinois Model of Leadership and the Illinois Philosophy of Leadership

In 2014-2015, the ILC sought out to reimagine the doctrine that guided the ILC and the broader University’s practice of leadership education. Over 260 faculty, staff, and students participated in the task of identifying the skills, values, and attributes an Illinois graduate should demonstrate. What resulted was a white paper on “An Illinois Model of Leadership Education”, which included four elements:
  • A philosophy of leadership,
  • leadership learning and practice,
  • leadership competencies, and
  • a leadership assessment (The Illinois Leadership Inventory) 
The cornerstone of our work is based on the Illinois Philosophy of Leadership. 
    illinois leadership philosophy  



#19 Illinois Leadership Coordinating Committee

From 1999 to 2020, the Illinois Leadership Coordinating Committee (ILCC), later known as the Illinois Leadership Education Campus Collaborative (ILECC), was a group of faculty, staff, and students from across campus who serve as the advisory committee for leadership education initiatives at the University of Illinois.     

Before the doors of the ILC opened in 2002, this committee was charged to create a set of guiding doctrine to inform and shape the practice of the leadership on campus. They created the Illinois Philosophy of Leadership and 11 Skills & Attributes, in which the ILC utilized to develop the center's curriculum and programs for over ten years. Their work also created the Minor in Leadership Studies, the Certificate Program, and i-Programs.

In 2014-2015, the ILCC sought out to reimagine the doctrine that guided the ILC and the broader University’s practice of leadership education. As a result of this work, today we have an Illinois Philosophy of Leadership, an Illinois Model of Leadership with four levels of practice and 21 core competencies, and the Illinois Leadership Inventory (ILI) as a result of this work.





#20 The Institute™ by LeaderShape®, our First Leadership Program

The Institute™ by LeaderShape® was one of the first formal leadership programs at Illinois, now in its 26th year! This program was first held for Illinois students specifically in 1995, but unfortunately has not been held for the past two years due to the pandemic.

The Institute™ by LeaderShape® is a nationally-recognized five-day, four-night, leadership development program that takes place over winter-break at the University of Illinois Allerton Park and Retreat Center in Monticello, Illinois. At The Institute, participants learn how to lead with integrity while working towards a vision grounded in their deepest values.  Participants explore not only what they want to do, but who they want to be. They create a vision for change and an action plan designed to assist them in effectively implementing their vision and goals.  The program is open to 65 undergraduate students each year and led by two lead facilitators and family cluster facilitators.  

Because of The Institute, students came back to campus and talked to the administration about having expanded leadership education opportunities for students.





How to support the ILC...

All of the ILC programs and services are free for Illinois students, so financial contributions can help more students experience world class leadership education! Here is what your contribution could do: 

Please contact Dr. Gayle Spencer, Director, at gspencer@illinois.edu or 217-333-0604 for assistance or questions.