USC Warren Bennis Scholars Program

Warren G. Bennis (1925-2014)
Warren G. Bennis (1925-2014)

The Brittingham Social Enterprise Lab and the Office of the Provost are pleased to announce the Warren Bennis Scholars Program. This new program aims to develop the leadership skills of a select group of USC students who are dedicated to effecting positive change in their communities and in society as a whole.

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.

About the Program
Application & Interviews
Graduating with Honors
Lead Faculty
USC Contact Person

The Program

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 3.60 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.


For the Spring 2017 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 (500-word limit each, double-spaced, 12-point font) answering the following questions:
    1. Essay 1: What are your current long-term professional aspirations? How will your participation in the Warren Bennis Scholars Program help you realize your life plan?
    2. Essay 2: If you devoted your life’s work to one cause, what would it be and why?
  • Letter of support from a USC instructor or administrator

Deadline to apply: Wednesday, February 15, 2017


A selection committee will evaluate the applications and invite the most qualified candidates for individual interviews prior to Spring Break. Candidates will then be invited to a final group interview round after Spring Break. The Office of the Provost will announce the names of the students to be designated as Warren Bennis Scholars by early 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.

Lead Faculty

Adlai Wertman, Director of USC Brittingham Social Enterprise Lab


Marci Henkoff

Spring 2017 Information Session

If you were unable to attend the information sessions in early February, you can access the 30-minute session here.

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