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The roots of the Center for Leadership are in the Undergraduate Leadership Program (ULP), which was founded by Prof. Emeritus Paul Arntson in 1990 with a grant from the W.K. Kellogg Foundation. Under Arntson’s leadership, ULP quickly established itself as a popular academic certificate that brought students together with leaders from all sectors of society and from all walks of life. Professor and Pulitzer Prize winning historian Garry Wills also taught in the program, leading to the 1995 publication of Certain Trumpets: The Nature of Leadership.

Since that time over 2,500 students have participated in ULP. With generous support from the University and the Christian A. Johnson Endeavor Foundation, ULP grew to work with nearly 170 students annually.

Expanding Our Reach 

In 2009, the Division of Student Affairs, The Graduate School, and the Office of the Provost funded a competitive Leadership Fellowship for advanced PhD students and high-potential staff. This allowed the existing program to serve more undergraduate students and led to the formal establishment of the Center for Leadership, which houses all our services.


The Center for Leadership serves students, faculty and others from across Northwestern University. It reports to the Office of the Provost and its academic programs are sponsored by the McCormick School of Engineering and Applied Science. All members of the University are invited to get involved.

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