• The Leadership Institute, sometimes referred to as the Institute or LI, is a leadership development program of the University of Tennessee university-wide administration, serving all UT campuses and institutes supporting approximately 14,400 employees statewide.
  • Since 1981, 23 Leadership Institute events have been conducted, serving more than 1000 participants, 360 of whom are current UT employees.
  • The LI purpose is to increase participants’ understanding of leadership in higher education and promote leadership effectiveness at UT.
  • Institutes are currently held every other year with 40-50 participants each time.
  • Participants are nominated and selected by the administrative leadership of each UT campus and institute. Nomination for participation in the Leadership Institute is an perceived as an honor for UT’s most promising employees for progressive leadership roles.
  • Each Institute consists of intensive small group and large group sessions from Sunday-Friday.
  • Participants are involved in experiential activities, immersed in simulations to learn about their own leadership characteristics, organizational cultures and how to work more effectively with their colleagues.
  • During the week, participants also learn from guest speakers, administrators such as presidents, vice presidents, chancellors, vice chancellors, LI facilitators and others, but most importantly from each other.


In 2012, the Leadership Institute celebrated its 30-year anniversary. To commemorate this event, Bob Levy and Katie High, former and interim Vice President for Academic Affairs respectively, reflected on the origins of the institute and its early years. Watch the videos below to learn more about the institute’s rich history.

Inception of the Institute

In 1979, John Prados tasked Bob Levy with developing curriculum to help academic department heads be more effective administrators.

Two Communities – One Institute

Early on, a decision was made to bring academic and non-academic administrators together for one institute.

The Early Institute

The early institute took place at Henry Horton State Park where participants had roommates and tried new activities.


This exercise is one of the most memorable for participants. Katie and Bob discuss its origins.

The Horn

Past participants have not forgotten the horn. Discover where it came from and its purpose at the institute.