N.C. State University: Partnering to Develop Young Leaders

NC State University
CLIENT:North Carolina State University’s Caldwell Fellows Program

Client Profile

For 50 years, our philosophy and training have been a vital component of N.C. State University’s Caldwell Fellows Program. We are involved in selecting Caldwell Fellows during their freshman year, and we run an intensive, 3-day training program during students’ junior or senior year as a capstone experience.

Students apply to the Caldwell Fellows program after their first semester in college, ensuring that Fellows have proven they can handle the academic rigors of college. The selection process is intensive, including 3 essays and multiple interviews for a group of about 50 finalists.

The goal is not necessarily to choose the students who always win the top scholarships, but those “diamonds in the rough,” says Bill Sternbergh, one of our senior fellows for leadership education who has taught Caldwell Fellows since the program’s inception and is involved in selecting Fellows. “There’s a glow, there’s a spark about wanting to have an impact on the world,” he says. It’s not uncommon for at least a few of the 25 Fellows selected each year to be the first in their families to go to college. Some of them come from rural North Carolina, others from overseas.

Caldwell Fellows receive an academic scholarship, leadership and service opportunities, and an annual experiential learning stipend. The stipend requires students to write a proposal before using the money; often it goes to service-learning projects.


After 3-4 years in the program, students go to our Greensboro campus to spend 3 days in an intensive, hands-on leadership development program. The 3 days are capped with a one-on-one personal coaching session in which the students receive feedback based on their assessments and leadership training. Fellows discuss with their coaches what the feedback and personal insights mean, and how they might apply them as students and future professionals.

There are now more than 1,300 active Caldwell Fellows alumni. Their anecdotes about the impact of the program and our training are telling. Fellows say their CCL experience helps them be better professionals and leaders, from handling significant corporate responsibilities to making life-or-death decisions.

Participants Say

“My time at CCL certainly helped me define my future career path in academic medicine. While I enjoyed many aspects of chemical engineering, the self-evaluation exercises at CCL were able to help me define some of the criteria that would be important for my own future career satisfaction, namely: personal interaction, teaching opportunities, and advocacy.”

“The flexibility of leadership styles is what I value most — the recognition of the correct times to lead by example, to delegate, to support others, or to step forward and take charge. Whether it be teaching, leading the resuscitation of a critically ill child, breaking bad news to a family, managing a group of highly skilled (but stressed) physicians, or developing hospital patient safety initiatives, these skills are used every day.”

“We also had a major scope change, so I had to get everyone realigned with the changes. Being a ‘servant-first’ (leader) helped me be more successful in my role, even though this was the first time that I had this type of leadership opportunity.”

Partner With Us

We understand the distinct challenges facing higher education. We can partner with your institution to address all levels of the collegiate experience from senior-level administrators to students with our Leadership in Higher Education solutions. Whether you’re creating your first program or revamping a decades-old initiative, we’re committed to strengthening strategic processes and enhancing the leadership capabilities of colleges and universities.

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