USC Warren Bennis Scholars Program

Message to USC Faculty and Undergraduate Students with 3.5+ cumulative GPA

From: Michael W. Quick, Provost and Senior Vice President for Academic Affairs

January 12, 2018

I am writing to let you know about an academic and experiential opportunity for undergraduates who will enter their third year of studies in Fall 2018.  Offered by the Office of the Provost through the Brittingham Social Enterprise Lab at the Marshall School, the USC Warren Bennis Scholars Program hones the skills of student leaders so they can create great impact over their careers.  This program was designed to benefit majors in all disciplines, not just those in the business and professional schools.

The Bennis Scholars Program brings together a group of forty juniors and seniors from across USC to engage in study, practice, and reflection related to leadership.  Like other elite USC scholars, Bennis Scholars will be recognized at graduation and will receive a special designation on their transcripts.  The program is aimed towards those who have demonstrated leadership experience, outstanding academic achievement, an eagerness to learn and grow, and the desire to create local and global impact.

The program includes participation in a one-unit Honors Colloquium for each of the final four semesters of the baccalaureate degree program, mentoring by professors, individualized personal development coaching, internship placement assistance, guest speakers and networking opportunities, and off-campus excursions

This program honors the memory of Professor Warren Bennis, the pioneer of leadership studies who mentored hundreds of students during his thirty-five years as a faculty member in the USC Marshall School of Business.  Before coming to USC, Bennis achieved remarkable success in a range of fields.  As a young man he earned distinction as an infantry platoon leader during World War II, receiving a Purple Heart and a Bronze Star for his service.  After the war, he taught courses on management at Harvard and MIT.  During the 1970s, Bennis served seven years as President of the University of Cincinnati before returning to teaching and research at USC.  Over the course of his career he authored more than thirty books on aspects of leadership.

In his 1989 book On Becoming a Leader, Bennis wrote, “The leader wonders about everything, wants to learn as much as he can, is willing to take risks, experiment, try new things.”  In bringing together students with diverse backgrounds, talents, and interests, the Bennis Scholars Program seeks to explore the leadership traits that are common to all fields of endeavor.  These traits include empathy, moral courage, personal dedication, and intellectual curiosity.

During Spring 2018, applications are being sought for inclusion in the third cohort of twenty Scholars.  The application deadline is February 7, 2018.  If you are an eligible student, I hope you will choose to apply for the Bennis Scholars Program.  If you are a faculty member and know of students who are well qualified, I hope you will encourage them to apply.

To learn more about the program, please visit the application home page at and the list of Frequently Asked Questions at