Providing education, experience, and empowerment to develop leadership.

The Washburn University Leadership Institute strives to produce the ideal Washburn Leadership Experience. This approach provides the education, experience and empowerment for all students to understand, practice and refine their leadership talents and skills.

A group of leadership students pose for a photo.

Our Story

Leaders are people who move through their lives with intention. People who seek to make a change. People who want to make a difference - in fact must make a difference. People who believe good judgment comes from experience and experience comes from poor judgment. They are the people who live with a restless agitation as they seek to understand their abilities and affect change. They are the people who understand their integral web and the power of each connection. And they are the people who know they are the change they seek. These people are the students and alumni of the Washburn Leadership Institute.

Our Mission

The Aleshire Center for Leadership and Community Engagement is committed to developing leaders through high-impact community-engaged learning. We empower students to become global citizens that support the creation of thriving, just communities. We bridge academic and co-curricular experiences to foster cross-cultural understanding and create innovative approaches to learning in partnership with community stakeholders.

Our Vision

To be a premiere center for transformative leadership development and community-engaged learning, committed to developing socially engaged, inclusive, and accountable leaders.

Living Learning Center entrance sign

Leadership Learning Community

The Leadership Learning Community presents students at Washburn University the opportunity to explore leadership development and concepts both in and outside of the classroom. Students in the Learning Community will live with peers who share an interest in leadership development. Students living in the community will be offered exclusive leadership opportunities to engage with campus and community members, attend outside programs and events related to leadership, and will be mentored by a Leadership Institute student who will serve as the Learning Community Resident Assistant. All students in the Community will be enrolled in the same section of LEl00: Exploring Concepts of Leadership.

Academic Programs

Students have the opportunity to develop leadership through a variety of academic programs at the undergraduate level by taking courses for General Education credit, earning a Leadership Studies Minor or Certificate, or by earning the Leadership Washburn Transformational Experience (WTE). Students seeking opportunities at the graduate level should consider a Master of Arts in Communication and Leadership. Learn more about these opportunities below!

The leadership director and a student discuss a plan.


  • The Leadership Studies Minor and Certificate programs require 12 credit hours of Leadership core curriculum, including three multidisciplinary leadership courses (plus two additional electives for students earning the Minor).
A group of leadership students smile and pose for a photo.

Leadership WTE

  • To obtain a Leadership WTE, students must complete a 3-credit leadership course plus a change project under the supervision of a faculty mentor. Earn an extra credential on your final transcript and special recognition at graduation.
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MA in Comm. and Leadership

  • This 30 graduate credit hour, interdisciplinary program is designed for working professionals. Experience a dynamic online learning-environment grounded in the more than 150 year history and tradition of excellence at Washburn University.

Building the Aleshire Center for Leadership and Community Engagement

The decision to merge the Leadership Institute with the Learning in the Community: Center for Civic and Community Engagement program at Washburn was initiated by a generous endowment provided by long-time LI supporters, Joe and Janet Aleshire. Program leaders felt they could have a greater impact on developing leaders equipped to engage as productive citizens by coordinating efforts and rethinking the way we teach leadership and engage students in our community. The Aleshire Center for Leadership and Community Engagement launched in 2024 with a goal to develop leaders through high-impact, community-engaged learning experiences. The Center resides at 1731 Plass.

A leadership student smiles and gives a thumbs up.
A group of leadership award recipients smile with their awards.
Two leadership students smile.
A leadership student and their family smile for a photo.

GET IN TOUCH WITH the Aleshire Center

Mailing Address
1700 SW College Avenue
Benton Hall, room 408
Topeka, KS 66621

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