Bennis Scholars Experiences

Honors Colloquium

The academic cornerstone of the program is the Honors Colloquium entitled “The Art of Leadership.”  Students enroll in this 1-unit course for each of the final four semesters of their baccalaureate degree (4 units total).  Each semester features a particular theme.  Over the four semesters, students read a variety of books, articles, and view films about historically great leaders and are exposed to the contemporary practices of leaders in a variety of business, government, professional, and community organizations.  Students engage in classroom discussions intended to analyze how such individuals behaved as leaders, why they did so, to what effect, and what lessons they personally draw on.

Guest Speakers and Networking Events

Scholars have specialized access to industry and thought leaders.  In Spring 2018, Scholars heard from Lieutenant General (Retired) Talley, Professor of the Practice of Public Policy & Engineering and Scholar-in-Residence at USC as well as Vice President, Global Public Sector, IBM Global Markets. Additionally, Adam Glick, Executive Vice President of Business Affairs, Warren Bros. Television, Jessica Lall, President and Chief Executive Officer, Central City Assocation, Dr. Juli Quinn, Chief Executive Officer, FREEducation, LLC, and Tom Pieronek, Vice President of Basic Research, Northrop Grumman Aerospace Systems visited with the Bennis Scholars. In Fall 2017, Scholars visited with the teams and executive leadership at Green Dot Charter School as well as the Los Angeles Alliances for a New Economy. In Spring 2017, local political leaders, Wendy Greuel (Chairwoman of the LA Homeless Services Authority, Member of the Governing Council of the LA County Initiative on Women and Girls) and Kevin de León (The California State Senate President pro Tempore) visited the Honors Colloquium. Additionally, students had the opportunity to meet Michael Singer (Chairman and CEO, Strategic Partners) as well as USC leaders, James Staten (Senior Vice President, Finance, and Chief Financial Officer) and Dennis Cornell (Chief of Staff to President C.L. Max Nikias).  In Fall 2016, Scholars were invited to The Jerry and Nancy Neely Center for Ethical Leadership’s inaugural symposium “The Practice of Ethical Business Leadership: Whys, Hows and Challenges.”  This event featured the following keynote speakers: Charles Handy (Britain’s leading spokesperson for management training and strategy), Kirk O. Hanson (Director of the Markkula Center for Applied Ethics, Santa Clara University), and Ronald Sugar, Ph.D. (Retired Chairman and Chief Executive, Northrup Grumman) as well as a salute to Trader Joe’s founder, Joe Coulombe.

Skill-building Workshops

Students gain access to workshops focused on key leadership development skill-building, such as self-awareness, effective communication, and decision-making.  Workshops are limited to Scholars and thus provide cohorts an in-depth exploration of leadership competency areas and application.

Coaching and Mentoring

Scholars receive individualized coaching to focus and support their leadership development growth.  As part of coaching, students routinely set goals, engage in development planning, and reflect on their progress.


Out of the classroom experiences provide opportunities for Scholars to explore leadership in a variety of contexts.  Additionally, students participate in informal gatherings and off-campus trips to facilitate community development within their cohort.

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