New CU-Boulder leadership minor to launch in spring 2014

Former University of Colorado President Alexander E. “Sandy” Bracken knows a few things about the role that effective leadership plays in career success and life in general.

As the Newton Leadership Chair at CU-Boulder, Bracken has the task – and desire – to bring more leadership training and development opportunities to students across all academic disciplines. One of the major components of this goal is the creation of the Newton Leadership Studies Minor, which will launch in the spring 2014 semester along with a new class (LEAD 1000) titled “Becoming a Leader.”

“The vision we outlined for the Newton Leadership Chair from the first day was to establish a campuswide culture of leadership development crossing all academic disciplines, colleges and programs,” said Bracken. “The Leadership Studies Minor will build upon the excellent work of CU’s existing campus leadership programs while expanding the reach of leadership development across all academic disciplines, thereby impacting many more students. Offering LEAD 1000 and the launch of the Leadership Studies Minor is a significant milestone that will further elevate CU-Boulder’s reputation in leadership education.”

Associate Vice Chancellor for Undergraduate Education Michael Grant echoed Bracken’s desire for CU-Boulder to be recognized for its leadership education. “We have a real opportunity here to take all of the many approaches and theories to leadership and provide our students context in which to exercise leadership no matter their chosen discipline,” Grant said. “The minor creates a stronger credential with employers and provides a real value to our undergraduate students.”

“Becoming a Leader,” the new foundations class for the Leadership Studies Minor, will serve as an entry point into the coursework. The goal of the class is to begin preparing students to exercise leadership in business, government, nonprofit organizations and community and civic activities. The course is organized around five major themes: what it means to be a leader; research perspectives on leadership; the personal side of leadership; leaders as relationship builders; and leaders as social architects.

Gordon Riggle, a lecturer in the Leeds School of Business and an accomplished leader in government, business and the military will teach the “Becoming a Leader” course. Riggle’s professional experience includes commanding the destroyer USS Kinkaid, working in the White House and U.S. Senate, and strategic planning and business development for Ball Aerospace. He also teaches other leadership courses at CU-Boulder, including “Global Issues in Leadership.”

“We will introduce a variety of leadership theories in this course but throughout we will emphasize how to apply them in the real world,” Riggle said. “We will discuss why demographic changes in our society and globalization require leaders who are mindful of cultural differences and inclusive in their leadership patterns. By combining theory with practical examples, the course will provide useful guidelines for students who want to be leaders of the future.”

Curriculum development for the minor is being led by Bracken in collaboration with the existing leadership programs and their faculty, as well as other CU-Boulder faculty and staff. “Becoming a Leader” will be offered through the Leeds School of Business and is open to all students regardless of their academic major beginning in the spring semester. It is expected to take two academic years to have the entire minor curriculum fully developed and offered in its entirety to students.

Completing the leadership minor will require 15 to 17 credit hours of leadership studies coursework, including the foundations course and a capstone course with a minimum GPA of 3.0.

The new minor is part of a larger plan to help broaden student opportunities to learn about leadership. Bracken has worked for the past year and a half to increase leaders’ visits to campus, and to highlight leadership opportunities, including developing a speaker series with the Alumni Association on campus.

“The need for effective and ethically based leadership has never been greater,” Bracken said. “We believe that the Leadership Studies Minor will be an important addition to any student’s academic program and that it will enhance student success upon graduation in whatever their chosen field.”

For more information about the Leadership Studies Minor visit


Sandy Bracken, Newton Chair, 303-492-4926
Greg Swenson, CU media relations, 303-492-3113