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History of the Leading Change Institute

The Digital Leadership Institute
In 1995, CLIR and Emory University jointly sponsored a meeting to consider the mix of skills and educational background necessary for the successful management of 21st century information services. The meeting was attended by library directors, provosts, directors of information technology, library-school faculty, and a library school dean. As a result of this meeting CLIR and Emory University commissioned a plan for a new Institute, to be called the Digital Leadership Institute (DLI), “to effect fundamental change in the way universities manage their information resources in the new digital era…instilling new methods and practices and creating a new information culture.” The mission: “To provide continuing education opportunities for individuals who currently hold, or will one day assume, positions that make them responsible for transforming the management of scholarly information in the higher education community. These individuals are likely to be mid-career and come from libraries, administrative staffs, computer centers and information-technology divisions, and faculties.”

CLIR formed a small advisory group and attended the December 1997 CAUSE conference to discuss the need for such a program. CAUSE was then in the process of merging with EDUCOM, and they were also running a successful management institute. CAUSE – soon to become EDUCAUSE – believed the DLI would be complementary to existing opportunities, and they became a full partner in the enterprise.

The Frye Leadership Institute
In 1999, funding from the Robert W. Woodruff Foundation supported the launch of the Institute, which was designed to run for ten years. At that time it was renamed the "Frye Leadership Institute" in honor of Billy E. Frye, who has served as provost, and later chancellor, of Emory University; as a member of CLIR's board; and as a distinguished leader in higher education.

The Frye Leadership Institute welcomed the first class of students in 2000. During its initial 10-year run, the Institute established a curriculum wherein students participated in a two-week series of lectures at Emory University followed by a year-long independent practicum at their home institution. Between 2000 and 2009, more than 450 professionals from the U.S. and around the world participated in the program and it became recognized as one of the finest of its kind in the United States.

In 2010 CLIR and EDUCAUSE called for a one-year hiatus in the program in order to assess and articulate the depth and consequence of changes that had taken place in the field of higher education since the Institute's conception. They evaluated the feedback provided by Institute participants over the previous ten years and explored several different models reflecting higher education’s emerging challenges and leadership needs. Their analysis brought them to a view of leadership development not as a program where participants are taught, but as an exchange among colleagues.

In 2011 the Institute's organizers tested several new approaches focused on the curriculum and general program. These included a greater emphasis on student projects; a more conversational approach between speakers and students; and a shorter time span, from ten days to six, to better accommodate participants' increasingly busy schedules. After surveying the class of 2011 and following extensive interviews with the class mentors, all of whom were Institute alumni, the program sponsors further decided to relocate the Institute to Washington, D.C. in 2012. The new location conformed to the recommendations of the students and mentors: to have easy and close access to different venues beyond the host hotel for project planning; a more varied setting to strengthen the social network so essential to the Institute experience; and to provide a venue whereby distinguished guests could readily join the Institute's conversations, often on an ad hoc basis.

The Leading Change Institute
As the successor to the Frye Leadership Institute, the Leading Change Institute is built upon the very successful model introduced in June 2012. The landscape of higher education has evolved considerably since 1995 and, as reflected in the Institute's new name, the need for creative, visionary leaders is vital. For more about the current Institute, see the What is the Program? page.