The Middle Leadership Academy is a professional development opportunity that brings together campus-based teams of CSU faculty, student affairs staff, researchers, and students in a collaborative and supportive environment to work on common issues related to student learning, engagement, progression and completion.

2021-22 Middle Leadership academy - Student success Network in the California state university


Through the lens of educational equity, the Middle Leadership Academy focuses on developing the leadership skills and collaborative relationships of Middle Leaders systemwide that are needed to make meaningful change on their campuses.


Campus teams identify equity issues related to student success and conceptualize innovative strategies to specifically improve outcomes and opportunities for historically under-served student populations in the CSU. Teams may bring their own unique equity problem (e.g. “success of students in parenting roles”) and/or align their project with the CSU Chancellor’s Office Graduation Initiative 2025 priorities such as re-engaging and re-enrolling underserved students and promoting equitable practices to reduce DFW rates.

Read more about how the Academy connects further to systemwide goals for the CSU in our Academy Primer.



Campus Culture

Examine campus culture and reflect on institutional politics and what strategies will affect positive and long-lasting change within their campus.

Project Development

Gain knowledge of project strategies and tactics that improve the process of moving from project planning to implementation.

Relationship Building

Expand your professional networks across the CSU and strengthen relationships for contributing to middle leadership on the home campus.

Data Literacy

Develop knowledge of CSU student data sources and how to utilize them in assessment. 


Envision equity promoting intervention strategies in alignment with ongoing campus efforts. 

Middle Leadership

Define the concept of “middle leadership.”


Read more about the composition of Academy teams and the expectations set for participants in our Team Roles & Responsibilities Guide.

2024-25 Academy

The CSU Student Success Network invites cross-functional teams of faculty, staff, administrators, and students from each campus to apply for the 2024-25 Middle Leadership Academy. The Academy is grounded in a problem-based learning model that motivates participants to “lead from the middle” as they explore and apply strategies to support equitable student learning, engagement, progression, and success on their campuses. 

Campus teams should include up to 6 people with diverse roles, including faculty, staff, administrators, and students. Only one team per campus will be selected to participate. Please identify a team lead to complete and submit the application on behalf of your team.

Participation in the Middle Leadership Academy is funded by the CSU Student Success Network and free of charge for all CSU participants including lodging and food while in attendance. Travel costs associated with attending the Academy are also reimbursed by the CSU Student Success Network. Travel must be arranged, submitted, funded, and approved in accordance with each campus’ policies and guidelines. See Travel & Logistics page for more information on the Network’s reimbursement process for campuses.



 Facilitator/Team Lead Orientation: October 18, 2024 (virtual)

MLA Session 1: February 12 8:00am – February 14 3:00pm (in-person, location tbd)

MLA Session 2: April 16 8:00am – April 18 3:00pm (in-person, location tbd)

MLA Session 3: May 16, 2025 9:30-3:30 (virtual)

Academy activities begin promptly at 8:00 AM on Wednesdays, and conclude at 4:00 PM on Fridays.

How to Apply for the Academy

Interested teams should identify a team lead that will complete and submit the application on behalf of your team. Please ensure all team members have viewed and agree to the Team Roles & Responsibilities. Applications will be scored based on the following criteria:

  1. Proposal provides sufficient detail as to the equity challenge being addressed
  2. Proposal specifies possible goals and/or metrics of success
  3. Proposal includes information regarding efforts toward sustainability
  4. Proposal clearly articulates the connection between this team’s goals and the broader goals for equity and change on their campus(es).

In addition, teams will need to attach a Letter of Support signed by an Endorser. An Endorser should be the appropriate cabinet-level administrator (Provost, VP, etc.) or their designee depending on your project’s scope and focus. This could be from a Provost for cross-college topics or from a Vice President of Student Affairs for topics primarily housed in Student Affairs. The endorser should review and agree to their role as outlined in the Team Roles & Responsibilities. If you have any questions, please contact

Applications will become available August 1, 2024 and be due by September 12, 2024 @5pm for our cohort capacity of 12 teams. We will review applications starting September 12, 2024 and notify the team lead of our selection decision.

Check out these resources to learn more about the utility of the Academy:

Ioakim Boutakidis

Have more questions? Contact Academy Director: Ellie Ertle