Leadership Opportunities

Colman Leadership Program for Ph.D. Students

In spring 2012, John and Jane Colman established the Colman Family Endowed Fund for Leadership within Diversity Programs in Engineering (DPE) to establish the Colman Leadership Program for Ph.D. students in engineering and other related STEM fields. In summer 2015, the Graduate School Office of Inclusion & Student Engagement established a partnership with DPE to launch a June offering of the Colman Leadership Program open to Ph.D. and M.F.A. students from across all graduate fields.

Every January and June, the Colman Leadership Program seeks to enroll up to 30 students in an intensive four-day program focused on providing participants with skills and knowledge that will support their development as leaders in graduate school and beyond. Although students with the fellowships and affiliations listed below receive priority consideration for enrollment in the program, the Colman Leadership program has the capacity to serve a broader base of students. Therefore, students from all backgrounds (domestic and international) and disciplines are strongly encouraged to apply.

  • Cornell Colman Fellowship
  • Cornell Sloan Fellowship
  • Cornell GEM Ph.D. Fellowship
  • Dean’s Excellence Fellowship
  • SUNY Diversity Fellowship
  • McNair Graduate Fellowship
  • Mellon Mays Graduate Fellowship
  • Provost Diversity Fellowship
  • Bouchet Honor Society

Program Goals

The Colman Leadership Program introduces students to a range of practical skills, theory pertaining to leadership, and special topics relevant for application in both academic and professional contexts. With a varied format including readings, interactive group activities, case studies, discussions, student presentations, and professionally conducted workshop sessions, program participants will learn about leadership, develop practical skills for negotiation and conflict resolution, and discuss modes of translating collaborative teamwork and the positive, productive employment of the diverse perspectives and backgrounds students bring to the program. Specifically, program participants focus on the following:

  • Self-awareness as a leadership skill
  • Extending self-awareness to effective interpersonal dynamics
  • Appreciating fundamental group dynamics
  • Understanding how to create teams from groups
  • Appreciating diversity in all contexts
  • Differentiating between role authority and leadership in an organizational context
  • Learning skills of integration and synthesis

Program Schedule

The online application for the January program opens in November while the online application for the June program opens in later April. Both offerings are open to all Ph.D. students from across all disciplines.

For more information or questions about the Colman Leadership Program, contact:

  • Sara Xayarath Hernández, Associate Dean for Inclusion & Student & Faculty Engagement, Cornell Graduate School: sh267@cornell.edu, (607) 255-5417
  • Jami P. Joyner, Director of Diversity Programs in Engineering: jj334@cornell.edu, (607) 255-6403

Postdoc Leadership Program

Leadership involves working effectively with other people to shape social reality and achieve organizational goals. It is a critical factor in organizational and career success. Every postdoc, no matter what field of endeavor, will face a variety of difficult leadership challenges. How these challenges are met will have a significant impact on the postdoc’s career and life.

Cosponsored by the Office of Postdoctoral Studies and the VP of Human Resources and Safety Services, this 10-module program is designed to introduce postdocs to some key concepts and skills of leadership in today’s complex environment. It provides a practical forum to assess and develop personal leadership skills in self-knowledge, planning and problem solving, group dynamics and team building, cultural fluency, conflict resolution, and facilitation of change.        

Schedule: September through March

Program Objectives

  • Explore leadership across cultures
  • Enhance awareness of personal style
  • Examine and practice tools for use in leadership roles
  • Build the postdoc community
  • Provide an opportunity to network with others and learn how to create networks to support change


  • Module 1: Understanding Leadership and Personal Style
  • Module 2: Moving from “Group” to “Team”
  • Module 3: Where You Sit in the Organization Makes a Difference in the View—Leaders and Followers
  • Module 4: Notice and Respond—Recognizing and Dealing with Mental Health Issues
  • Module 5: Dealing with Challenges—Resolving Your Own Conflicts
  • Module 6: Dealing with Challenges
  • Module 7: Exploring Cultural Fluency
  • Module 8: Dealing with Challenges—Considering the Nuances of Culture in Conflict Resolution
  • Module 9: Managing Staff Performance
  • Module 10: Understanding Organizations

For more information or questions about the Postdoc Leadership Program, contact:

  • Christine Holmes, Director of Postdoctoral Studies: ch18@cornell.edu, 607-255-5823

Leadership Development Courses for Graduate and Professional Degree Students

LEAD 5100: Leadership Skills for Graduate Students

Course information provided by the Courses of Study 2019-2020.

Formal training and practice of skills required for leading people in an academic or business environment. Skills include coaching, feedback, managing conflict, fostering teamwork, creating vision, and developing diversity. A significant portion is devoted to understanding one’s own strengths and weaknesses and how to recognize and use strengths in others.

When Offered: Spring (10 weeks)
Permission Note:
Enrollment limited to Ph.D. students, or graduate and professional degree students enrolled in leadership or management programs.

ILRHR 7451: Leadership Assessment for Managers

Course information provided by the Courses of Study 2018-2019.

The purpose of the three and a half day course is to assess the leadership and management skills of students by providing an opportunity to gather feedback on their strengths and developmental needs. The first two days focus on self-awareness and employ several experiential exercises and self-assessment instruments, including Leadership 360 Assessment, the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI), Thomas-Kilmann Conflict Mode Instrument (TKI), and the Fundamental Interpersonal Relations Orientation-Behavior (FIRO-B). Class members will be trained in giving and receiving feedback from team members. Activities in the last days of the course will include various leadership and team challenges. Professional feedback providers will observe students in group work on leadership cases and exercises and provide feedback on their observations and the results of individual instruments. The final day of the course students will focus on goal setting for future leadership development.

When Offered: Fall, spring.
Permission Note: Enrollment limited to 36 graduate and professional degree students
Comments: ILR students must take for a letter grade, all others S/U only.

NBA 5150: Leadership Theory and Practice

Course information provided by the Courses of Study 2017-2018.

This course will focus on the challenges of effective leadership in a complex world. The course has four significant parts: 1. Exploring historical and contemporary theories and models of leadership through the required text and selected articles; 2. Examining and applying the Johnson School’s Leadership Model; 3. Analyzing the practical challenges of leadership through case studies and executive speakers; 4. Developing self-awareness of the student’s leadership strengths and weaknesses through the use of behavioral instruments and group exercises and creating a personal action plan for improvement. A critical element of this course will be the coaching and feedback students will receive on their own leadership styles and behaviors from their peers and instructor.

When Offered: Fall, spring.
Permission Note: Enrollment limited to: non-Johnson School students only – UG seniors and non-Johnson graduate and professional degree students. No audits permitted.