Student Leadership Institute


SLI Logo

The Student Leadership Institute (SLI) is a year-long leadership experience designed for rising sophomores and juniors at Syracuse University who exemplify the Institute's core values - commitment, community, and change. 

Members of the Student Leadership Institute participate in a number of leadership and professional development opportunities throughout the year including working collaboratively on the development and implementation of the Student Leadership Institute Conference along with other projects.

Members of the Institute benefit from relationships with the Faculty Advisors .

  History of SLI:

 The Student Leadership Institute (SLI) at Syracuse University was founded in 2007 after then Senior Vice President and Dean of Student Affairs Barry Wells charged the Division of Student Affairs with the creation of a true leadership experience for students at Syracuse University.

Since its founding in 2007, SLI has undergone a number of changes including transitioning from monthly year-long workshops to monthly semester-long workshops to its current focus on retreats. The one constant has been the weekend retreat at the Oswegatchie Educational Center in Croghan, NY. The Oswegatchie retreat has always given new members of the Institute the opportunity to connect with one another as well as the faculty; to learn about them; and, to begin the process of becoming part of the SLI family.

Today, there are over 150 alumni representing every academic school/college at Syracuse University. While the shape of the Institute has changed, the core purpose has remained the same: to provide a comprehensive leadership experience for students.

SLI Members & Structure

Members: Membership in SLI is open to undergraduate students at Syracuse University and SUNY-ESF who meet the qualifications for membership: minimum 2.5 GPA (cumulative), sophomore or junior status, and the ability to commit for the entirety of the program (1 year minimum). Members are nominated by faculty and staff at SU and SUNY-ESF once a year. Nominees are then invited to apply for admittance into the Institute. Applications are then reviewed by the SLI faculty.

Alumni Interns: Interns are SLI alumni who apply and are selected to work alongside the SLI faculty and chair to administer the day-to-day operations of the Institute.

Alumni: Alumni are SLI graduates. There are over 150.

Faculty: The SLI Faculty is made up of educators and administrators from across the Division of Student Affairs at Syracuse University. The Faculty is charged with maintaining the integrity of the Institute, setting the educational agenda, and providing internship to members, interns, and alum. The SLI Chair is a member of the faculty and is charged with the general administration of the Institute.  



Mission and Values


The mission of the Student Leadership Institute (SLI) is to develop students who inspire others to act.

Core Values:

Commitment: Speaks to our belief that our word is our bond.  Members of the Student Leadership Institute respect and honor their commitments. Members understand that a promise or commitment unfulfilled tarnishes their own reputation and diminishes the reputation of the Institute.

Community: Speaks to our belief that leadership is possible only in relationship with others. Members of the Student Leadership Institute are part of a family with a rich and distinguished history. Members acknowledge that our family is enhanced when we work together in common cause and is diminished when ego runs rampant. Members recognize that all we do is for the good of the Institute, the University, and the community.

Change: Speaks to our belief that leadership is about positive change. Members of the Student Leadership Institute strive to better themselves and the communities to which they belong.

The SLI Curriculum

Members of the Student Leadership Institute have the opportunity to direct their own experiences through active participation in one or more of the Institute’s learning tracks. The learning tracks coupled with the core Institute programming (see “The Student Leadership Programming” section”) and project implementation teams form the Institute’s curriculum.


Click here for more information about the SLI Curriculum.

Prospective Members

Admission to the Student Leadership Institute is highly competitive. Students are nominated by members of the faculty and staff in the Spring semester. Students who are nominated are then invited to apply for admission to the Institute. The applications are reviewed by the SLI Faculty. 50 students annually are accepted. In 2012, the Institute received over 400 nominations for admission.

To be considered for Admission to the Institute, applicants must have and maintain a 2.5 cumulative GPA; cannot be involved in an active judicial case or on disciplinary status of probation, suspension, or expulsion; and, members must fully participate in all parts of the Institute. Students accepted must be able and willing to place their primary co-curricular focus on the Institute. The faculty also considers a number of other criteria when reviewing applications.

What's in it for me?

  • Certificate in Conflict Resolution from the Maxwell’s Program for the Advancement of Research on Conflict and Collaboration
  • Certificate in Entrepreneurship from Whitman’s Falcone Center for Entrepreneurship
  • Certificate in Health, Health Policy, and Wellness from Maxwell’s Lerner Center for Public Health Promotion
  • Certificate from School of Education’s Intergroup Dialogue program
  • Certificate of completion in Grassroots and Community Organization from the Wellstone Action Organization
  • Recognition at the 44 Stars of Excellence Awards Ceremony
  • Ability to apply for an Intern position in the Office of Student Activities
  • Ability to volunteer with the Office of Judicial Affairs as a conflict mediator.
  • Ability to network with over 150 Student Leadership Institute alum
  • SLI graduation certificate and pin

Strategic Partners

Intergroup Dialogue

The School of Education's Intergroup Dialogue Program at Syracuse University is deeply involved in the nexus of theory, research, and practice important for intergroup dialogue. Faculty, teaching, and research staff are familiar with and active in various expressions of social justice education. Collectively and individually, we are committed to research that develops an understanding of critical learning processes and change through education.


The Maxwell School's Lerner Center for Public Health Promotion is dedicated to applying the best practices of social marketing and science to create public health programs that are motivating and sustainable.

PARCCLogo The Maxwell School's  Program for the Advancement of Research on Conflict and Collaboration (PARCC) at the Maxwell School of Syracuse University is a multi-faceted, interdisciplinary research center that advances both theory and practice in the fields of conflict and collaboration.

The Whitman School's Falcone Center for Entrepreneurship is the outreach arm of the Whitman Entrepreneurship and Emerging Enterprises department.  The mission of the Falcone Center is to facilitate the entrepreneurial activity on campus and the local and regional communities. Centered on the mindset of Dream > Believe > Pursue, the Falcone Center aims to help develop the entrepreneur within, providing the resources and mindset for creating new ventures, new products and new methods through a variety of innovative programs and initiatives.