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True North Leadership Program

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We are excited to announce a milestone in our commitment to leadership education at Duke. On Monday, September 18, Student Affairs proudly launched the True North Leadership program, an initiative designed to reshape how we approach and teach leadership skills to our undergraduate students.  Made possible by the generosity of the George Family Foundation, Duke True North Leadership begins a three-year pilot program, built upon the vision and success of Bill George’s True North: Emerging Leader Edition.

Through the True North Leadership program, our aim is to facilitate the exploration of personal leadership capabilities while fostering profound relationships among our diverse peer groups. Eventually, the program will pave the way for a transformation in how all Duke undergraduate students engage with leadership concepts. Within ten years, our goal is to have all 1700 first-year students engaged in year-long cohorts that introduce the principles of True North.

The True North Leadership Program will support the revitalized student experience as a key component of QuadEx. Designed to ensure that all Duke undergraduates experience strong community among their peers, meaningful faculty connections, and support in their wellbeing and personal growth, QuadEx has built the framework to foster a student’s sense of belonging. All this occurs while providing opportunities for greater inclusion and exploration on the individual, community, and University levels. True North Leadership is the newest addition to Duke’s strategic plan, equipping students with the resources to make a difference on campus and beyond. 

The three-year pilot program will gradually scale its curriculum and participant numbers over time incorporating content that guides students in exploring their own lived experiences and finding commonalities among the community here at Duke. The target cohorts for the first year will include undergraduate groups from Housing & Residence Life, New Student & Family Programs, Identity & Cultural Centers, and Venue & Production Management. Students who successfully complete the program each year will earn the title of George Scholar.

In addition to expanding our program cohorts each year, we will introduce standalone leadership content. This content will be accessible to a wider undergraduate student audience, providing an opportunity for familiarization with the common language of True North in a less demanding setting.

We also want to highlight the success of our mid-September kick-off event, where over 150 participants had the opportunity to hear from Bill George, Executive Fellow at Harvard Business School, Former Chairman and CEO at Medtronic, and author of True North: Emerging Leader Edition. Following his keynote address, Bill moderated a panel of young Duke alumni who reflected on their leadership lessons they learned from their time at Duke and beyond. Panelists included Tara Bansal, Breakthrough Energy Ventures; Jesse Huddleston, Duke-Durham Neighborhood Partnership & Community Development; and Amy Kramer, United States Army.

Through the True North Leadership Program, Duke will offer a comprehensive and transformational four-year leadership journey that will leave students with the shared competencies and language no matter what journey they embark on after their time at Duke.