Presidents Leadership Class

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Presidents Leadership Class
Established 1972
Director Steve Dinauer
Academic staff
Dr. JulieMarie Shepherd Macklin, Dr. Angela Thieman Dino, Senior Instructor Gordon Riggle
Administrative staff
Jessie Kasynski, Silas Binkley
Undergraduates 200
Postgraduates 2000+
Location Boulder, Colorado, U.S.
Campus University of Colorado Boulder
Nickname PLC
Affiliations Colorado Leadership Alliance, Leadership Studies Minor

The Presidents Leadership Class (PLC) at the University of Colorado at Boulder is one of the oldest collegiate leadership programs in the United States.[1] A four-year academic and experiential learning program for top students at the University of Colorado at Boulder, the Presidents Leadership Class was named to honor the president of the University of Colorado as well as the corporate presidents and executives involved in the program’s formation.


The PLC program was founded and operated for 40 years as an independent non-profit organization in close partnership with the University of Colorado Boulder. On July 1, 2012 PLC was officially adopted by the University as a fully integrated top scholar program.

Founded in 1972, the PLC began as a conversation between William A. Douglas, Dean of Admissions, and then Assistant Director of Admissions, Terry Heineman. Heineman had attended the University of Oklahoma where he was involved with an undergraduate program similar to what PLC eventually became. After many discussions, Heineman and Douglas thought it worthwhile to initiate a similar leadership program at CU Boulder as a recruitment strategy to attract and retain Colorado’s top students. Both felt it important to involve the outstanding leaders in the state to lend additional credibility to their concept. This inclination led them to William Coors, Chairman of the Coors Corporation. These three, along with several other corporate and community leaders, moved forward and developed the Presidents Leadership Class, named in honor of the university president and the corporate presidents involved in the program’s formation.

The first Board of Directors included very esteemed members of the university and surrounding community: William Coors, Chairman of the Coors Corporation; Emmett Heitler, President of Samsonite Corporation; Theodore Brown, President of First National Bank of Denver; Frank Raggio, Executive at Martin-Marietta; Al Flanagan, President of Channel 9 and later President of Gannett Broadcasting; and William Douglas, Dean of Admissions, Registrar, and Financial Aid at CU Boulder.


Each year, the Presidents Leadership Class selects up to 60 of the most exemplary freshman students attending the University of Colorado at Boulder. Students wishing to become part of the Presidents Leadership Class apply to the program during their senior year of high school through the CU Boulder General Scholarship Application. Applications are due every year on February 15. PLC receives an average of 500 applications each year for the 50 positions for incoming freshman. PLC established a second-point-of-entry for rising sophomores in 2013 and has admitted at least two rising sophomores to the incoming cohort each year since.

The General CU Boulder Scholarship application consists of a detailed history of a student’s academic record, test scores, community service, leadership roles, extracurricular activities and a general essay. The PLC application additionally, requires three short essays, evidence of one creative achievement, one teacher/coach/supervisor/mentor recommendation, and one counselor recommendation.

From 500 applications, PLC selects 160 in-state students and between 25-30 out-of-state students to participate in interviews with a panel of judges composed of alumni, community leaders, parents of PLC students, and university officials.


Each year, 50 of the University of Colorado Boulder’s most talented incoming students and select rising CU and transfer sophomores enter as PLC Scholars. Each student is awarded $1,000 their first year in the program. Once they have completed the first year, students become eligible for many other scholarships over the next three years of their undergraduate career. Scholarships come form various sources including: the William A. Douglas Endowment, FirstBank, El Pomar Foundation, Ball Foundation, Cecil Walker and family, the Alvin Flanagan fund, the Hoelscher Memorial Scholarship, Annabelle K. Lutz Voss Scholars, the Van Lanschoot Family Scholarship, the Leo Hill Endowment, the Brian Watson Foundation, alumnus Tim Pestotnik and directly from the University of Colorado.

The Program[edit]

PLC scholars receive four years of rigorous academic and experiential leadership development training, fostering both intellectual, personal and professional growth. Scholars experience a multi-dimensional program that integrates academic course work, experiential learning, community impact projects, and involvement with industry and community leaders. The various elements combine to encourage and develop the skills and character traits key to innovative success. Students who complete the PLC program requirements and complete the leadership capstone course receive a Leadership Studies Minor.


In a recent survey, 91% of PLC alumni responded that PLC has helped them perform at a higher level in their career as compared to other college graduates.[citation needed]

Campus Placement & Board of Advisors[edit]

The program operates within the Office of the Provost and under the supervision of the Associate Vice Chancellor for Undergraduate Education, Dr. Mary Krauss. The organization has a prestigious Board of Advocates who work closely with the director to raise awareness, support student achievement, and assist with fund raising and development for PLC . The board is made up of business and community leaders, PLC alumni, current students and includes both the University Chancellor as well as other distinguished faculty from CU Boulder.

Alumni Network[edit]

Founded in 1972, the Presidents Leadership Class boasts an active alumni network of more than 2000. All PLC students are given access to this network to find jobs, mentors, and friends whenever desired.

Former Speakers[edit]

Past speakers at PLC events have included:


  1. ^ Roberts, Dennis C. Deeper Learning in Leadership : Helping College Students Find the Potential Within. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass, 2007., p. 30-31.