Wartburg College was one of only 25 schools nationwide and the only one in Iowa to earn a Carnegie Elective Classification for Leadership for Public Purpose.

The classification acknowledges colleges and universities that have committed to campuswide efforts to advance leadership in pursuit of public goods like justice, equity, diversity and liberty. The designation is presented by the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching, the American Council on Education and the Doerr Institute for New Leaders at Rice University.

“The acknowledgment of Wartburg College as a national exemplar in Leadership for Public Purpose is a testament to both our mission and our people. The exceptional vision of Michael Gleason in both undergraduate and graduate spaces has led to experiences both inside and outside the classroom that center communities and action in leadership education,” said Wartburg President Rebecca Ehretsman. “Our mission, vision and values focus on leadership and service as pillars of the holistic education we aim to provide, graduating the next generation who will be truly equipped to impact their communities and our world.”

Seal Carnegie Elective Classification for Leadership for Public Purpose 2024-30

Wartburg is one of only 10 private institutions on the list of 25, with includes schools in 19 states across the U.S. The designation continues through 2030.

In addition to being central to the college’s mission and vision statement, Michael Gleason, the Irving R. Burling Distinguished Professor in Leadership and director of the college’s Institute for Leadership Education, said leadership at Wartburg is defined as “taking responsibility for our communities and making them better through public action.”

“The ways we approach vocational discernment and our identity as a rooted and open Lutheran institution are integral parts of the work we do here, resulting in leadership development being woven into all facets of our campus experience,” Gleason said. “Leadership is naturally embedded into our curricular and co-curricular programs.”

Wartburg has long been at the forefront of leadership education in higher education. The Institute for Leadership Education was formally established in 1989 with the creation of the Irving R. Burling Chair in Leadership. Undergraduate students have learned about leadership largely through the leadership minor curriculum, which was implemented in 1998.

High-impact community partnerships are critical to the leadership education experience at Wartburg. These partnerships have included work with Community Builders, Community Emergency Response Training and Retrieving Freedom Inc. The Baldwin Leadership Fellows program promotes community engagement and leadership development among cohorts of undergraduate students.

Due to the success of the undergraduate initiatives and the alignment of leadership within Wartburg’s mission statement, the Board of Regents approved a graduate leadership certificate program in 2018 and a Master of Arts in leadership in 2020. The first cohort graduated from the master’s program in May 2023.

“What is notable about this particular designation is that it focuses not only on what we are doing in one area of campus, but rather it represents an entire campus ethos around leadership for the common good,” said Gleason. “Leadership development is a part of what we do in all facets of our campus experience.”

Carnegie’s Elective Classifications provide an independent and rigorous assessment of an institution’s extraordinary commitment to, investment in and accomplishment at addressing pressing issues of the societies they serve.

“Congratulations to these pioneering recipients of the inaugural Carnegie Leadership for Public Purpose Classification,” said Carnegie Foundation President Timothy F.C. Knowles. “These institutions have demonstrated a relentless commitment to fostering leaders dedicated to the pursuit of vital public goods. Students from these institutions will undoubtedly shape a brighter future for us all, upholding fundamental American values and advancing opportunity for the nation.”

Founded in 1852, Wartburg College in Waverly, Iowa, is dedicated to challenging and nurturing students for lives of leadership and service as a spirited expression of their faith and learning. Together, we create an inclusive community combining diverse curricular and co-curricular experiences to prepare students to be resilient leaders of positive change through service in a complex world.