Leading in a Time of Transformation

September 9–November 12, 2016

BRIDGES is an inclusive professional development program for women in higher education who seek to gain or strengthen their academic leadership capabilities. It is designed to help women identify, understand, and build their leadership roles in the academy. Through an intensive program, participants will

  • develop insights into leadership, with a particular focus on the special skills and attributes women bring to their leadership roles
  • acquire an understanding of the many facets of colleges and universities
  • refine and improve their cross-cultural communication skills, and
  • create a program of personal and professional development to benefit themselves and their institutions.

Who should participate? Women from four-year North Carolina institutions of higher education, both public and independent, who want to position themselves for advancement in the academy, including

  • faculty interested in developing their leadership skills
  • faculty looking to move into academic administration
  • administrators with managerial and supervisory responsibilities
  • administrators seeking a greater range of responsibilities.

“Participating in BRIDGES encouraged me to be bold in my pursuit of professional advancement, but to temper that boldness with grace and compassion for others, and of course, to take others along with me as I move up and over. I feel better prepared to take on new challenges, conquer professional fears, and realize the plans I have laid for myself. Equally as important are the relationships I formed with my BRIDGES sisters, who both listened to me and shared their wisdom freely. I am forever grateful for this opportunity and will certainly encourage other women to participate.”

BRIDGES Theme: Leading in a Time of Transformation

The BRIDGES Advisory Board has selected “Leading in a Time of Transformation” as the theme for BRIDGES. Transformational leadership, sometimes called “visionary leadership,” is a concept with a rich literature of theory and implementation studies. Four specific concepts have been selected by the Board as most important for women developing their capacities as academic leaders today:

  1. Transformational leaders have values, not just titles. BRIDGES has not changed its commitment to preparing and encouraging women to seek the highest positions of leadership. However, we intend to be leaders in bringing equity and excellence to our campuses regardless of our positions.
  2. Transformational leaders facilitate the development of leadership in those around them and rally community members to tackle difficult problems together.
  3. Transformational leaders know when it is time to transform a situation and develop something new and different. They recognize that doing “more and better” is not always enough.
  4. Transformational leaders must be prepared to take action and precipitate change rather than give in to “easy answers.” They must understand themselves well enough to stay firmly grounded in their values while being open to broad perspectives and even to conflicting views.

“I was glad to have the opportunity to meet so many interesting and powerful women . . . No other program gives us the opportunity to see what our female colleagues across campus are accomplishing.  That insight is, in itself, empowering . . . Opportunities like this, rare as they are, make a real difference.”

Program Overview

In the four weekends of BRIDGES, you will gain a better understanding of the academy, while looking at what is necessary for your own development as a leader, what you need to do to create new relationships with colleagues and allies, and what actions you may want to undertake to create innovative changes at your institution. Our program also emphasizes what we want to accomplish in helping North Carolina women in higher education claim, strengthen, and exercise their leadership capacities:

  1. We will explore how exercising our leadership capacities to their fullest transforms the way we lead our lives and do our work.
  2. We will encourage the use of women’s leadership capacities to transform our institutions and fields of expertise.
  3. We will reflect on how exercising our leadership as women—individually and collectively—can provide models for transforming how we understand leadership in higher education.

The curriculum is designed by members of the BRIDGES Advisory Board, who are women faculty and administrators from public and independent North Carolina colleges and universities.  Board members have significant leadership experience, and most are graduates of the program.  All are dedicated to helping women in higher education to establish and attain their professional goals.

Session presenters have been chosen because of their special abilities to model the kind of visionary leadership that is important to the future of higher education in our state.  Other presenters are experts with skills necessary for addressing complex problems in today’s academic context.  All of the presenters will be sharing information and insights that will help strengthen your capacities to make a transformational difference on your campus and in your career.

Small group discussions, panels, question-and-answer sessions, case studies, and formal presentations are used to create an atmosphere that encourages learning and interaction. Advance readings are assigned for some sessions, and participants complete a leadership survey in the summer before the first session.

BRIDGES will give you a chance to learn key management skills from outstanding administrators and faculty from a variety of academic fields. By interacting with academic leaders from public and independent college and universities, you will learn about financial and legal issues facing higher education today, as well as some of the special human resources and risk management challenges we face in academia. You will also hear perspectives on the crucial roles of fundraising and politics on our campuses. You will hear personal stories from a diverse group of academic leaders and have the opportunity to talk about your leadership challenges. You will evaluate your strengths and weaknesses as a leader, and chart a course for your professional future, both  in terms of your goals for advancement and contributing to your institution.

“BRIDGES represents the best of insightful, problem-based, and experiential learning! The program offers women in academic leadership positions the opportunity to learn from one another, and the reassurance that the challenges across our campuses are more similar than different. A wonderful learning and networking opportunity!”


The program is organized into four weekend sessions, beginning on Friday afternoon and ending Saturday afternoon, with lunch and dinner served on Fridays, and lunch provided on Saturdays. The beginning and ending program sessions include an overnight weekend retreat (accommodations provided) at the Aqueduct Conference Center in Chapel Hill, North Carolina. To graduate from the program, participants must attend and actively participate in all class sessions.

Part 1:  Developing a Transformational Perspective

Friday, September 9, noon, through Saturday, September 10, 4:30 pm

Part I is an overnight weekend session and allows participants to get acquainted and be involved in the many facets of transformational leadership—theory, practice, and self-knowledge. Cross-cultural communication and team-building will be a focus of this session. This session is held at the Aqueduct Conference Center in Chapel Hill.

Part 2: Using Our Resources in a Transformational Context

Friday, September 30, noon–8:30 pm and Saturday, October 1, 9 am–4:30 pm

Part 2 focuses on organizational structure and behavior, financial resources, and human resources. Participants work with case studies and hypothetical situations on multiple topics. They will focus on both the specific institutional context of the case studies and the broader implications for higher education. Both sessions are held at the Friday Center for Continuing Education.

Part 3:  Transforming for Continuity and Change

Friday, October 21, noon–8:30 pm and Saturday, October 22, 9 am–4:30 pm

Part 3 gives participants the opportunity to explore how change and crisis can be openings for personal and institutional transformation. Risk/crisis management, legal issues, and fundraising are the focus of the sessions. Both sessions are held at the Friday Center for Continuing Education.

Part 4:  Transforming Together

Friday, November 11, noon–8:30 pm

Part 4 is an overnight weekend session. Participants work as individuals and members of a team in preparing a focused strategic plan for personal and professional transformation and a network that extends beyond the life of the program. This session is held at the Aqueduct Conference Center.

Alumnae Session and Graduation

Saturday, November 12, 9 am–3 pm

This session will provide opportunities for reflection, sharing ideas and challenges while renewing old acquaintances and making new friends. Activities will consist of a networking luncheon with BRIDGES alumnae and the BRIDGES graduation ceremony. This session will be held at the Friday Center for Continuing Education.


The cost of BRIDGES is $1,750, payable by July 15, 2016. This fee includes all instruction, educational materials, survey instruments, meals, and accommodations for the beginning and ending weekend sessions at the Aqueduct Conference Center. Participants will need to make their own accommodations for the remaining program sessions (but meals for those sessions are included).

Departments and administrative units are encouraged to provide financial support to participants.

Payment can be made by MasterCard, VISA, institutional or personal check made payable to the Friday Center for Continuing Education (Federal ID# 56-6001393), institutional purchase order, or UNC-Chapel Hill online account adjustment. We accept only VISA or MasterCard. We do not accept debit cards.

Full refunds, minus a $900 administrative fee, will be given to registrants who cancel in writing by August 26, 2016. No refunds will be made after August 26.

How to Apply

There are three ways to apply. All materials must be submitted together (application, essay, resume, recommendations). Register with Course #3400.

Apply online (preferred)

Mail: Print out the application form, include the necessary attachments and mail it to

Campus Box 1020, The Friday Center
UNC-Chapel Hill
Chapel Hill NC 27599-1020

Fax: Print out the application form, include the necessary attachments and fax it to 919-962-5549.

Your completed application packet consisting of an application form, résumé/curriculum vitae summary (limit to two pages), essay, and two letters of recommendation must be received by May 4. All components of your application packet must be submitted together. Incomplete or late applications will not be accepted. Admissions decisions will be made by June 15. Payment is due by July 15.


As leaders, we play different roles based on individual experience and situations. What are your goals with respect to leadership in higher education? How will the BRIDGES experience help you accomplish those goals? Your answer should be the equivalent of no more than one letter-size page, Times New Roman point size 12.


Two letters of recommendation are required, one of which must be from your institution. Letters are not confidential and must accompany your application. Recommendation letters should address the following areas:

  • How long and in what capacity have you known the applicant?
  • How do you think BRIDGES will impact the applicant’s potential for leadership in higher education?

Some institutions submit applicants through an internal screening and selection process. However, final admissions decisions rest with the BRIDGES Admissions Board.

UNC-Chapel Hill uses an alternative to the Social Security number called the Personal ID (PID) to aid in keeping records for students and participants. If you already have a PID, please enter it on the application form. If you do not have a PID, you will be required to enter your birthdate and gender so that we can assign you a PID. We appreciate your cooperation.

The University of North Carolina maintains a policy of equal educational opportunity.


Parts 1 and 4: The Aqueduct Conference Center

The Aqueduct Conference Center is located just south of Chapel Hill and provides excellent meeting facilities, comfortable accommodations, and quality service in an environment that inspires learning, stimulates instruction, and encourages interaction.

Parts 2 and 3 and the Graduation and Alumnae Event: The Friday Center

The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill William and Idea Friday Center is designed especially for continuing education programs. This fully accessible, smoke-free building has spacious meeting rooms as well as lounges and patios for informal conversation, reading areas for quiet study, and free parking.

For More Information


Annette Madden, Director
Professional Development and Enrichment Programs
The Friday Center
800-845-8640 or 919-962-2643