Professional News

Women’s Executive Leadership Development (WELD) program to host graduation ceremony and reception

Mark Cornelison | UK Photo.

LEXINGTON, Ky. (Dec. 6, 2023) — The University of Kentucky Women’s Executive Leadership Development (WELD) program will host a graduation ceremony and reception on Friday, Dec. 8, in the William T. Young Library Auditorium. The ceremony will begin 3 p.m. with a reception directly following at 4:30 p.m. Spalding University President Tori Murden McClure will speak at the event with additional remarks from Provost Robert DiPaola. 

The WELD Program seeks to develop a new generation of leaders in higher education who can successfully contribute to the future of the university. The eight-month-long curriculum consists of 2 two-day retreats and monthly meetings covering topics that include leadership attributes, budgeting, strategic planning, legal issues and regulations, and crisis management.  In addition, participants met in between the monthly meetings in small groups to discuss readings they selected on various topics related to leadership and higher ed. Approximately 24 faculty and staff participate in programming annually.

Tori Murden McClure, M.Div., J.D., M.F.A., is an explorer, author and, since 2010, the president of Spalding University in downtown Louisville, Kentucky. Throughout her career she has led with vision and empathy, including as a chaplain at Boston hospital, the director of a women’s shelter in Louisville, a policy assistant in the Louisville Mayor’s Office, and director of development of the Muhammad Ali Center in Louisville — their first full-time employee.

During Friday’s ceremony, McClure will speak about her experiences in leadership, and her perspectives on the particular opportunities and challenges facing women leaders.

“As a program, WELD serves many important functions, from training participants on topics like effective communication, strategic planning, and negotiating, to helping individuals think about their own approaches to leadership and their preferred career paths. But in many ways, the most valuable thing people who’ve gone through the program come away with is a new network of friends and colleagues across our campus, who they will rely on for years to come,” said Jennifer Bird-Pollan, associate dean of academic affairs and director of Women's Executive Leadership Development Program. 

“The relationships that the WELD cohort build among themselves last well beyond the end point of the program, and the UK community is stronger because of the trust and respect that are established during those months together. Building the future leaders of this university depends on making investments now in faculty and staff members who can envision one day taking on greater responsibility on this campus. I am deeply grateful to both the president and the provost for recognizing that, and for continuing to support the WELD program as part of those efforts.”

To RSVP for the graduation and reception, click here

The WELD Program is now accepting applications for the next cohort of participants for 2024. 

Plans call for the eight-month long program to begin in April 2024 and conclude in December 2024. Applicants should be mid-to-senior level faculty (associate professor or professor or senior lecturer) and staff in executive, director or managerial positions and should be able to demonstrate their leadership experience. For faculty members, this experience might include serving as director of undergraduate or graduate studies; department chair; program, division or center director; or assistant or associate dean. For staff, this leadership experience might include working as a division supervisor, a department director or other similar leadership roles.   

WELD was created with the primary goal of increasing the representation of women in academic leadership capacities and assisting women in seeking academic leadership roles to acquire the skills and capabilities necessary to attain high-level academic leadership positions. While gender equity in academic leadership remains the primary goal, the program is open to all individuals on campus, regardless of their gender. 

Faculty or staff interested in applying for the 2024 WELD cohort should go to the WELD application website to begin the process. Applications will be accepted until Friday, Jan. 12, 2024, and selections will be announced in late February 2024.

The program is coordinated under the oversight of the Office for Faculty Advancement with assistance from Human Resources.

As the state’s flagship, land-grant institution, the University of Kentucky exists to advance the Commonwealth. We do that by preparing the next generation of leaders — placing students at the heart of everything we do — and transforming the lives of Kentuckians through education, research and creative work, service and health care. We pride ourselves on being a catalyst for breakthroughs and a force for healing, a place where ingenuity unfolds. It's all made possible by our people — visionaries, disruptors and pioneers — who make up 200 academic programs, a $476.5 million research and development enterprise and a world-class medical center, all on one campus.   

In 2022, UK was ranked by Forbes as one of the “Best Employers for New Grads” and named a “Diversity Champion” by INSIGHT into Diversity, a testament to our commitment to advance Kentucky and create a community of belonging for everyone. While our mission looks different in many ways than it did in 1865, the vision of service to our Commonwealth and the world remains the same. We are the University for Kentucky.