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Institute Founding

Rick Price

The Barger Leadership Institute helps students learn to meet the challenges of an increasingly complex, volatile and ambiguous global world. The Institute is dedicated to developing 21st century Michigan leaders through powerful learning experiences that engage with and reach far beyond the conventional classroom. We seek to extend students’ skills by supporting study abroad, internship experiences with global reach, student-initiated projects, and collaborative research with faculty. Beginning in 2010, the Institute has emphasized rich leadership development programs with both curricular and co-curricular components. We hope to identify, inspire and educate Michigan undergraduates from a wide range of backgrounds who are pursuing their interests anywhere on campus.

The Barger Leadership Institute was dedicated in October 2007. Initial Institute activities included a public lecture and master class conducted by Dave Barger, former CEO of JetBlue Airways, induction of the first cohort of Global Leadership Scholars and Internship Fellows, and the funding of a faculty/student leadership research team. Since then, the Institute has dramatically extended its programs and its reach on and off campus.

In giving the founding gift to establish the Leadership Institute, Dave Barger said, "Leadership is the front-line connectivity. It's about being plugged in to the customer, the culture, the government and being visionary. What's exciting to me about this program is that it is directed at undergraduates. Leadership usually is wrapped into a program well down the career path in graduate school. The Institute will give undergraduates the ability to grab leadership concepts early. They will have experience painting the picture."

While Dave Barger's gift anchors the Institute, other significant gifts to support student scholarships and Institute activities have come from current and former Organizational Studies Leadership Committee members Barry Blattman, Jamie Sprayregen and Joe Kaplan.

The Barger Leadership Institute will continue to support the development of the University of Michigan’s distinct culture of leadership and engagement through rich, diverse programs. We invite you to join us to expand the Michigan way of leadership.