The Executive Leadership Institute (ELI) operates on a cohort basis.  Candidates must be nominated to apply.  Nominations are made by the University President, a campus Chancellor, an institute’s Vice President, the UT Foundation’s President, or a System Vice President.  Between twenty and twenty-five candidates are selected to participate.  For the upcoming cohort, we are accepting nominations beginning July 15, 2022.

Download the Nomination Support Form Download the Application


Each session generally begins at 8:30a.m. the first day and ends by 2:00p.m. the second day. The one-day Orientation session begins at 8:00a.m. through 4:00p.m. The following are the dates and sponsors for this year’s program:

  1. August 29, 2022 A one-day session beginning at 8:00a.m. through 4:00p.m. Franklin, TN
  2. September 26-27, 2022 University of Tennessee at Martin, Martin, TN.
  3. December 1-2, 2022 Institute for Public Service, Government Relations and Advocacy, University of Tennessee Foundation. Nashville and Pulaski, TN.
  4. January 30-31, 2023 University of Tennessee Health Science Center, Memphis, TN
  5. March 13-14, 2023 University of Tennessee Southern, Pulaski, TN
  6. May 18-19, 2023 University of Tennessee Chattanooga, TN
  7. June 12-13, 2023 University of Tennessee Knoxville, Knoxville, TN.


Program Requirements

The program requirements are to:

  • Participate in six two-day onsite Academy sessions plus one one-day orientation session spaced at six-week intervals, each requiring one or two overnight stays (stays depend on travel distance from your home base). Attendance is mandatory for each program as scheduled from opening to closing segment.
  • Enroll in the Executive Leadership Institute’s online course and complete the periodic assignments throughout the program term. The online course is also a comprehensive repository for all the documents and materials associated with the ELI along with documents and videos for discovering more in-depth understanding of every element of the program and its emphasis on enterprise leadership. The online course also provides a venue for discussions, conferencing, and collaborating with your colleagues in the program. This private course is limited only to your ELI class and the program directors.
  • Engage with a confidential personal executive coach who will collaborate with you over 10-12 one-hour sessions within the year (approximately one every four weeks with an occasional two in a month).
  • Complete different personal leadership assessments during the program year. These are selected to provide you insights to our current leadership strengths and blind spots. All assessments help you develop your goals for improvement of your leadership as well as career development.  Your executive coach and your consultant will use these data as part of their work with you. These are not optional assignments. However, they are confidential. We will collect assessment data from you and your colleagues to provide you useful benchmarks and to improve the program, but we do not reveal your individual assessments.
  • Participate in three or four one-hour Zoom sessions to supplement between Academy onsite sessions over the year. These sessions allow the program to take advantage of unplanned opportunities for topics and speakers of interest to the program. Although live attendance is expected, time conflicts might occur.  All sessions are recorded so participants can view the video sessions within two weeks of posting.
  • Receive articles, research papers, and position papers that support the content presented in the Academy sessions. You will receive these materials in the weeks prior to each Academy session. These resources are intended to create for you a library of ideas, innovations, and solutions to call upon when needed in your career. Therefore, we have no expectation you read every item when received but we do expect you will peruse the collection and save as your electronic library of enterprise advice.


How to be Successful


This program is challenging

The Executive Leadership Institute requires active engagement throughout the year of the program.  It takes time, but time devoted to personally enhancing your skills and challenging your mindsets. Given this remarkable focus on your development, you are expected to be fully engaged. After all, the entire focus is on your advancement, so the value is returned to you and worth the effort.

Time requirements

The program is from August to June. Global estimates of the time required for the program are near impossible as each person has his or her own goals and choices of experiences. Onsite sessions require travel and time away from home or office. Mentorships and any alternative experiences will have widely varying time expectations. Given all these caveats, anticipate you might average three to four hours per week, but the variance can be between zero and twenty (counting hours onsite for sessions).


How you approach this program has everything to do with your success. This is unlike any leadership development program offered in higher education. We follow the clear research that reliability and self-awareness are two essential attributes for successful enterprise leaders. Those attributes will be an important focus for your development, but they must also be evident when entering the program.

Reliability is the expectation you follow through with your commitments. If you commit to this program, you commit to all of it. Self-awareness is your ability to receive feedback on your performance and yourself.  Inherent in our development opportunities is building on your current leader strengths and blind spots. To open your insights to yourself, you will complete numerous self-assessments and two 360-degree evaluations of you by others. You will have the benefit of a personal executive coach and a consultant who will help you process these data as well as help elevate your self-leadership development.

These are not optional assignments. However, they are confidential. We collect data for you to provide useful benchmarks and to improve our program, but we never reveal your individual assessments nor the content of your coaching conversations.

If being reliable and open to feedback about your self are problems for you, this is not a program for you.


The entire cost of your participation is assumed by your sponsor, our Academy hosts, and the University of Tennessee System. The Academy sessions are hosted by a campus or institute. Those chancellors and vice presidents generously provide for the Academy sessions including all meals, receptions, and breaks. The UT System Administration provides for your textbooks, executive coaching, consultants, speakers, supplemental materials, and administrative costs associated with delivering the program. Your sponsor provides your cost of travel expenses and incidentals according to your local regulations. Although difficult to assess the full cost of this program given variable of travel and extent of hospitality by the hosts, suffice to say that the University of Tennessee is making a significant investment in your future.

Research, Privacy and Confidentiality

While the Executive Leadership Institute is a cutting-edge executive leadership development program, it is also a systematic research project devoted to refining our understanding of higher education enterprise leadership. Therefore, we collect data on all assessments to provide you relevant comparative benchmarks and to use for program improvement. To the latter purpose, we will request you provide us feedback on your experiences and opinions during and following the program.

You agree to share your data from each of these assessments with the Executive Leadership Institute. This benefits you by allowing us to provide you personalized summaries of results with comparative data from those who have participated in this program and its related sister programs. You benefit from the excellent contributions of those who’ve gone before you. The integrity of ELI and the process of individual development is dependent on protecting the privacy of data and feedback you share, and that integrity will not be compromised.

The insights gained from the assessments help develop your capacity to lead complex higher education enterprises. Reports generated by ELI are your reports and, except for the program director, you alone have the data to use for your benefit. The Tilt and Clifton Strengths Finder (CS34) assessments are conducted in partnership with your executive coach for the Tilt and our professional advisor for the CS34. Your coaches use the respective assessments as part of confidentially collaborating with you to develop your plans to strengthen your leadership. Except for statistical data collected by ELI from these assessments, your discussions and plans made with your coaches are not shared even with the ELI.

Other assessments are provided online by outside sources. We only choose those that do not require a fee, or we will pay the fee for you when required. Following your participation, those providers may include you in their messaging; however, we’ve found that not to be overly intrusive and often an added value.

Questions for clarifications about our research, privacy and confidentiality expectations can be answered by contacting