Aspen-Kern Program on Leadership and Character in Higher Education

Developing educational leaders for undergraduate character education,
democratic citizenship, and human flourishing.

The Aspen-Kern Program on Leadership and Character in Higher Education is a new initiative designed to support and enhance the leadership of new college presidents. At a time when leadership in and the purposes of higher education are unusually contentious, this program aims to emphasize the non-technical aspects of undergraduate education, including the ability to think critically, engage in civil, challenging, and creative dialogue, and to foster individual character that contributes to democratic citizenship and human flourishing.

Building on the Aspen Institute’s history of almost 75 years of humanities-based leadership formation, as well as Kern-supported programs dedicated to advancing character education and a better society, the Aspen-Kern Program for Leadership and Character in Higher Education is a new resource in a time of great need and opportunity. The Program features a seminar-based fellowship for new presidents of four-year institutions, with seminars on leadership, personalized coaching with distinguished college presidents and other executives, and support for on-campus initiatives, as well as humanities-informed seminars for specific institutions and practical resources and thought leadership for new ways of conceiving and articulating the purposes of higher education.

The Program’s fellowship will complement existing skills-based support for college presidents within their first three years in office at public and private four-year undergraduate-serving institutions. Its first gathering will take place in spring 2025.  

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