Where emerging leaders prepare to build their future.

Since 2004, the Peter C. Cook Leader Academy has instilled leadership excellence in a select group of undergraduate and graduate students across the institution. The program is co-curricular and cross-disciplinary, offering our student fellow candidates unique opportunities for reflection, engagement, and learning with and from a diverse cohort of their peers throughout the academic year. Candidates are admitted to the Cook Leadership Academy for one or more years. Each applicant must meet the criteria of high academic achievement, active involvement in the campus community, dedication to the public good, a passion to lead, and a commitment to personal growth.

Peter C. Cook Leadership Academy

If you are a current CLA Fellow Candidate looking for the CLA Fellow Portal, click here.

What We Do

person talking at a mic

Wheelhouse Talks

The Wheelhouse Talks bring to our stage a brilliant group of regional, state, and national leaders from varied disciplines and sectors. Throughout the series, our speakers share their leadership journeys, lessons learned, and the values and philosophies that guide them today.

two people talking


Each student is paired with a professional mentor for the academic year. Students have the opportunity to learn from a leader in the community who helps them to develop the soft and technical skills they need to succeed. The student and mentor work as a team, helping the student tap their potential and think about ways they can improve their leadership skills to best reach their goals. Mentors come from a range of sectors and backgrounds, but share a dedication to supporting student learning by sharing their time and talent with our cohort.

people smiling at a table

Community Integration

Following in the footsteps of our founders COL Ralph Hauenstein and Peter C. Cook, students are encouraged to engage with the community through service, network building, and professional development. Service remains a component of the CLA curriculum, starting at orientation and carrying through the academic year. Students also have the opportunity to develop their network through attendance at events with professional and non-profit community organizations. In addition, students have the opportunity to engage in valuable public speaking training through Jennifer Maxson & Associates and are invited to showcase their communication skills by introducing Hauenstein Center events.

two people high fiving

Self Reflection Workshops

A cornerstone component of the CLA is the time students spend learning with and from their peers. Through intensive cohort workshops, called Self Reflections, students spend dedicated time throughout the academic year reflecting on and refining intentional leadership competencies. Utilizing leadership theory, perspectives from campus leaders, and small group discussions students will develop their personal leadership philosophy through these deeply interactive events.

person talking at a podium

Leader Labs

In Leader Labs, students explore the connections between leadership and their own experiences. Each semester, three fellow candidates speak to the cohort and campus community about the experiences and theories that guide their leadership practice. This event offers not only valuable storytelling and public-speaking experience, but also encourages other fellow candidates to examine the insights and similar narratives in their own lives.

CLA By the Numbers

Cost to Participate

Students participate at NO COST! All events and programs are paid for through generous donations from campus and community partners.

Time Commitment

There are 7 required events each semester, in addition to mentor meetings. This is about 20-30 hours per semester for the academic year. On top of that, there are hundreds of hours of optional opportunities for engagement through campus and community events!

Cohort Size

65 students, from undergraduate through doctoral programs, representing over 30 degree programs at GVSU.

Give Today

This endowment is used to support the leadership development of the 60+ fellow candidates in the Peter C. Cook Leadership Academy.

If you have any questions about the Peter C. Cook Leadership Academy, please contact Emily McKenna-Makela at [email protected] or (616) 331-7072.

Page last modified January 17, 2024