2016 ILEAD No Year

History of ACUI's Premier Student program

The Institute for Leadership Education and Development (I-LEAD®) was conceptualized as an advanced leadership program for college students. The first I-LEAD® was held in conjunction with the 1994 ACUI annual conference in Hawaii. A program of the Commission on Educational Programs and Services (CEPS), I-LEAD® was originally designed to provide a unique, multi-ethnic, cross-cultural, transforming leadership experience for 64 participants representing the then 16 regions of the Association.

As time passed, I-LEAD® continued to grow in popularity with its student market. Most ACUI regions created scholarship programs to provide financial support for student leaders attending I-LEAD®. The number of participants and facilitators continued to grow, reaching 78 participants and 11 facilitators joining the volunteer coordinator at I-LEAD® 1998 in Anaheim, Calif.

Based on feedback and the desire to allow I-LEAD® the flexibility to grow, the Association undertook a bold plan. In 1999, I-LEAD® was moved out of the annual conference and was implemented as a stand-alone institute. With this change came a host of new programmatic elements:

  • Students are no longer selected for participation by an application process. Rather, the program takes the first individuals to register, up to that year's maximum number. This change provides a more diverse participant group.
  • The educational program coordinator on the ACUI Central Office staff and the volunteer I-LEAD® Program Team leader collaborate to produce and implement I-LEAD®.
  • I-LEAD® has philosophical foundation in the Role of College Union Statement, conceptual foundation in the creation and nurturing of community, and practical foundation in the development of skills to support: values, leadership, decision making, confrontation, and change.
  • I-LEAD® is a live-in, experiential, substance-free institute.

Since becoming a stand-alone institute, I-LEAD® has experienced a few other milestones:

  • In 2001, two sessions were offered for the first time, both in Bloomington, Ind.; the program extended to five days in length.
  • In 2005, a second session was offered for the first time outside of Bloomington, Ind., taking place at the University of Hawaii–Hilo.
  • From 2006–2008, only one session was offered, taking place in Bloomington, Ind., but allowing the number of participants to increase; the program extended to six days in length.
  • In 2009, for the first time, no sessions took place in Bloomington, Ind., as the program went on the road to University of Colorado–Boulder, hosting the largest single session to day (73 students).
  • In 2010, a formal bid submission process was created to allow institutions to submit proposals to host I-LEAD®, prioritizing the need for accessibility of host facilities and the interest to take the program to new regions.
  • In 2011, after significant interest from student participants just weeks before the program, I-LEAD® attempted a new delivery method—host two concurrent sessions of the program, during the same week at the same location, SUNY–Brockport. Through this, 102 students and 25 facilitation team members participated.
  • In 2012, 105 students took part in the program at the University of Missouri–Columbia.  This was an all time high for student participation in the program.
  • In 2013, record numbers were set again at the University of La Verne.  136 students participated in the program.

Since becoming a stand alone institute, I-LEAD® has impacted more than 1266 students and 270 facilitation team members, supporting ACUI's commitment to student development.


Check out these links to learn more:


Questions about the program

Any questions about I-LEAD® can be directed to:

Kim Pho
Educational Program Coordinator
Association of College Unions International

Updated Dec. 21, 2015