The Warren Bennis Scholars Program is a university-wide initiative offered by the Office of the Provost through the Brittingham Social Enterprise Lab at the Marshall School. Each year, twenty students across academic disciplines are selected at the end of their sophomore year to participate in the two-year leadership program. Scholars receive intensive leadership training and access to top USC professors.
The program honors the memory of USC Distinguished University Professor, Warren G. Bennis, an internationally recognized authority on leadership, who served as advisor to several U.S. Presidents and mentored countless students during his distinguished thirty-five year career at USC. Learn more about Dr. Bennis here.
In Spring 2016, the inaugural cohort of seventeen Bennis Scholars was chosen to participate in a two-year program that spans their junior and senior years. The program provides a variety of developmental activities intended to prepare students for leadership roles in whatever professional fields they choose to enter. These activities will include:
- Participation in an Honors Colloquium (a one-unit course each semester for four semesters);
- Skill-building workshops;
- Guest speaker and networking events;
- Coaching and mentoring by experienced leaders from many fields; and
- Off-campus excursions
In particular such experience-based activities are designed to develop life-long commitment to community service and to hone the skills required for leadership.
The program invites applications from current USC undergraduates who are second-semester sophomores in majors from all university departments, divisions, and schools, and who have at least a 3.50 cumulative G.P.A.
While academic achievement is the baseline requirement, Bennis Scholars ultimately will be chosen based on their moral force of character and instinct to lead on behalf of others. The program is intended for students who display intellectual curiosity beyond their major fields of study, and who are willing to engage in socially important endeavors that require risk-taking and development of new skills.
Finally, Bennis Scholars must agree to take an active part in all formal group activities, most of which will be offered on Friday afternoons. Other activities will be flexibly scheduled in order to accommodate the Scholars’ different class demands.
The application for Spring 2018 is now closed.
For the Spring 2018 application process, eligible second-semester sophomores must submit an online application, including the following items:
- Résumé or one-page list of your academic and extra-/co-curricular activities;
- Two essays (Double-spaced, 12-point font) answering the following questions:
- Essay 1: (400-word limit) Give us an example of when you took a leadership role. What motivated you to lead?
- Essay 2: (200-word limit) Close your eyes. It’s twenty years from now. What does your professional life look like today?
- Recommendation from an individual who has observed you in a leadership role. Recommendations from USC professors or administrators are preferred; however, recommendations from coaches, volunteer managers, as well as internship or job supervisors will also be accepted. Recommenders will complete a series of short-answer questions rather than submit a letter of support.
A selection committee will evaluate the applications and invite the most qualified candidates for individual interviews in March. Candidates will then be invited to a final group interview round. Candidates selected for the third cohort of Warren Bennis Scholars will be notified in April.
Graduating with Honors
Scholars who successfully complete the program will receive four units of academic credit, public acknowledgment at graduation, and an honors notation on their official University transcript.
Adlai Wertman, Director of USC Brittingham Social Enterprise Lab