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Middle Leadership Academy

Call for Applications 2018-19

Now more than ever, California State University (CSU) campuses need to strengthen the ability of middle leaders—students, faculty, staff, and administrators—to address the equity mission of the CSU.

The CSU Student Success Network invites cross-functional teams to apply for the 2018-19 Middle Leadership Academy. The Academy engages campus teams comprising faculty, staff, students, and administrators in a year-long institute spanning three intensive Thursday-Saturday sessions. A facilitator partners with each team throughout the year to help guide teams and provide targeted support. The Academy is grounded in a problem-based learning model that motivates participants to “lead from the middle” as they explore and apply strategies to support student learning, engagement, progression, and success on their campuses, with a focus on closing opportunity and outcomes gaps.

The Academy focuses on developing the skills and relationships of middle leaders so they can make meaningful change on their campuses. Campus teams are encouraged to conceptualize innovative strategies to enhance student success, especially for traditionally underserved students. Teams may bring their own specific topic that centers on issues of equity, for example removing barriers affecting transfer for underrepresented student groups or STEM student success.

Middle Leadership Academy participants will:

  1. Engage with existing research that explores the relationships between institutional needs, effective leadership, and student success;
  2. Apply research and evidence to make informed decisions that advance institutional change efforts;
  3. Strengthen the capacity to prioritize and lead departmental, institutional, and other changes through the process of evidence-based collaborative inquiry;
  4. Create and sustain professional relationships in which peers share ideas and strategize approaches around evidence-based leadership and institutional change;
  5. Develop leadership identity;
  6. Develop strategies to sustain and support leadership development; and
  7. Consider ways in which they and their institutions contribute to equity and inequity.

Middle Leadership Academy retreats will be held at the Kellogg West Conference Center at Cal Poly Pomona on the following Thursday-Saturday dates.  

  • December 6-8, 2018
  • March 7-9, 2019
  • May 2-4, 2019

All travel, food, and lodging costs are reimbursed by the CSU Student Success Network.

Questions? Contact Middle Leadership Academy Director, Dr. Bianca Mothé, at

Application Guidelines

The 2018-19 Middle Leadership Academy uses a two-step application process.

Teams may have up to six participants and should include at least one administrator, faculty member, staff member (preferably from student affairs), an institutional researcher, and a student, if appropriate.

STEP ONE: Interested teams must first prepare a Letter of Intent including a 200-word project description, and team member names and roles. Please fill out this form by September 14 at 5:00 pm.

STEP TWO: The Student Success Network will contact all team leads with further instructions. Only one application will be accepted from a campus for the 2018-19 Middle Leadership Academy. If multiple teams from the same campus submit a Letter of Intent, we will direct them to coordinate their applications going forward.

The application form will be made available once the LOI period closes. Teams will need to answer three short essay prompts explaining how their team will benefit from participation in the Middle Leadership Academy. Team members must be finalized at this time.

Additionally,  each team will be required to sumbit a letter of support from the appropriate administrator. This could be a Dean if the team is housed in one college, a Provost for cross-college topics, and/or a Vice President of Student Affairs for topics primarily housed in Student Affairs. In many cases, a collaborative letter signed by both the Provost and the VP of Student Affairs may be most appropriate.

Please send the letter of support to

Complete applications will be due October 1, 2018.

What is a Middle Leader?

Middle leaders in the CSU may carry the title of faculty, staff, department chairs, directors, deans, students, or similar. Beyond title, these individuals interact with colleagues from across their campuses on a regular basis. Middle leaders are aware of the needs of their specific CSU student populations and are excited to lead from their position on campus.  

History of the Middle Leadership Academy

The Middle Leadership Academy was established in 2017 and, in its first year, served teams that were working on Math Placement and Readiness on their campuses. Nine CSU campus teams participated in the Academy, representing a total of 60 faculty, staff, administrators, and students.

Want to know more? Check out our Informational Webinar.


Or watch the following presentations from the 2017-18 Academy.