The seventh cohort of the Provost’s Leadership Academy kicked off with a retreat at Ross Point last month.

Dozens of WSU faculty members applied for the opportunity to undergo intensive training and dedicate precious time to a leadership project. Why would they voluntarily tackle additional responsibilities sans additional compensation, while already juggling duties that rarely fit into a 40-hour work week?

The Provost’s Leadership Academy (PLA) has built a reputation as an intense and worthwhile endeavor for aspiring leaders. In its seventh year, PLA is cultivating leadership of all types throughout WSU’s faculty ranks. Many Academy alumni have taken on official leadership roles at the university. Many others lead colleagues through unofficial leadership roles and capacities.

“This is not a cookie-cutter mold,” says Denise Yost, who directs the curriculum for the Academy, along with Mary Kay Patton. “They decide what leadership means for them and then try to apply that. Leadership is about building relationships”

The seventh cohort of PLA participants convened last month at the kickoff retreat at Ross Point camp in northern Idaho. Over 36 hours, the faculty members engage in intensive training, personal assessment and reflection. They also bond as a cohort and gain perspectives from a diverse group of colleagues from across the university.

“The meals are served family style and right off the bat, we’re in a setting we’re not used to, sharing meals with fellow faculty members,” Yost says. “We’re able to pause, reflect and do some serious work.”

Each Academy participant designs and executes a leadership project that aligns with the goals of his or her department, and the goals of the university. Time is dedicated at the retreat to discussing the projects, honing their design, and gathering feedback from colleagues.

The PLA curriculum continues throughout the year, with online modules, and in-person sessions with WSU leaders.

“Usually the President comes and gives a presentation on leadership, and I think having the faculty be in touch with the leaders in that way, where you can really ask questions and get honest answers is a major bonus,” Yost says.

Kelly Ward, vice provost for faculty development and recognition, says the program is vital from the standpoint of the administration, and the faculty.

“The Provost’s Leadership Academy plays a critical role in building a community of formal and informal leaders at WSU,” Ward says. “The goal is that over time we will build leadership capacity so that when opportunities to lead and serve are available, faculty members with skills will be ready to assume leadership positions.”

For more information on the Provost’s Leadership Academy, visit