Carnegie Elective Classification

Creation of the Elective Classification for Leadership for Public Purpose

In January 2020, the Doerr Institute of New Leaders hosted a working meeting of 30 scholars and practitioners from a broad range of institution types (as categorized by the Basic Classification) to draft an application framework for a new Elective Classification for Leadership to be proposed to the Carnegie Foundation. This would be the second such endorsement the Carnegie Foundation would sponsor alongside the Community Engagement Classification and other future Elective Classifications. During the working meeting, which spanned two and a half days, scholars and practitioners considered a variety of questions about leadership in higher education today. Key among those questions:

What would an institution that was committed to leadership for public purpose look like, act like, be like?

Throughout the two and a half days, attendees discussed practices and principles that would demonstrate a level of institutional commitment sufficient for an Elective Classification. The consortium did this by examining how leadership education, development, and research relates to the public purpose of higher education and how a classification can serve as a catalyst to sectorial improvement. 

Meeting attendees agreed that leadership education and development is a core function of American higher education and represents an applicable tangible skillset for furthering civil discourse and public good around the globe. A charrette process allowed participants to advance different perspectives about what might constitute evidence of an institution's commitment to leadership for a public purpose. 

Drafting Process

After concluding the working meeting, a first draft of the application framework was developed using the insights from the group and guidance from the Carnegie Foundation. The next phase of development involved gathering input from a broad range of stakeholders and their reflections on the initial draft. After gathering input from more than 50 scholars and practitioners, a second draft of the framework was shared and approved by the Carnegie Foundation.

Pilot Process

Thirteen institutions decided to participate in a pilot process where schools completed the self-examination and submitted an application that was evaluated by a core team of reviewers. Nine of those campuses submitted an application. This process, administered by the Institute, provided insights into improvements needed for the application before its launch. During the seven-month-long process, representatives from each campus came together to discuss progress and challenges with the self-examination. Nine campuses submitted a pilot application and. The nine founding institutions, together with the Doerr Institute of New Leaders at Rice University, established a national cohort to discern the utility of the new framework in order to launch the first cycle.

Nine Founding Institutions:

  • Claremont McKenna College
  • Westminster College
  • U.S. Coast Guard Academy
  • Valparaiso University
  • Simmons University
  • Creighton University
  • Fort Hays State University
  • Uniformed Services University of Health Sciences 
  • University of Colorado Boulder

Interested in The Classification?
Next Steps:

Step #1:  Sign-up to get notified when applications open
Step #2: Join HigherLed, our consortium of higher education leaders, to learn more about the process and share best practices.
Step #3: Join our monthly Q&A session on Carnegie Elective Classification. Details in HigherLed.


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Contact Carla Ortega Santori at Carla.Ortega.Santori@rice.edu