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. 

Learning outcomes:

Equity – Examine inequities in student outcomes and understand the contributing sources at their CSU campuses. 

Knowledge – Apply research-based evidence to advance equitable student success efforts on campus via a project-based model.

Assessment – Apply knowledge of assessment measures to appropriately develop and implement a plan to assess project interventions.

Relationships Build relationships with colleagues on their campus and from across the CSU who are involved in campus-level efforts supporting equitable student success.

Leadership – Build leadership identities, skills, and agency to help lead equity-driven change within the CSU. 

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


2023-24 Academy


The CSU Student Success Network invites cross-functional teams of faculty, staff, administrators, and students from each campus to apply for the 2023-24 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.



November 2023: Team Launch Meetings (home campus meeting with facilitator)
February 7-9, 2024: Session 1 (Sacramento)
April 3-5, 2024: Session 2 (San Diego)
May 10, 2024: Final Presentations (Virtual Conference for Network at-large)

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 Guide. Applications will be scored based on the following criteria:

  1. Proposal provides sufficient detail as to the equity challenge being addressed, including exisiting evidence.
  2. Proposal identifies how the MLA team will define success in adressing their equity challenge.
  3. Proposal clearly articulates the connection between this team and the broader goals for equity and change on their campus.

    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. If you have any questions, please contact

Applications for the 2024-25 Middle Leadership Academy will open in the summer of 2024. 

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

Ioakim Boutakidis

Have more questions? Contact Academy Director: Ellie Ertle