Student-Athlete Leadership Development Program

A four-year program in which Carnegie Mellon Student-Athletes evolve as leaders through engaging speakers, thoughtful discussion, campus outreach, and engagement and proactive mentorship.


The Carnegie Mellon Student-Athlete Leadership Development Program is designed to serve as a complement to the student-athlete’s education at Carnegie Mellon University, marrying the technical and practical skills they attain in the classroom with strong interpersonal, communication, and leadership skills. While at Carnegie Mellon, these skills will embolden student-athletes to lead and excel on the court, in the pool, on the track, on the field of play, as well as in the classroom. It is the mission of the athletic department to develop leaders, mentor students and teach values that will inspire lives of vigor, balance and greatness.  It is the intent of the department to offer robust and diverse opportunities to our athletes that build character, teach motivation and foster collaboration, while preparing them to succeed in all facets of their lives.  After four years in the Leadership Development program, these skills will propel a graduate from the program into the workplace and beyond.


The Leadership Development program is a curriculum-based program that will provide athletes, at different stages of their careers, with the skill sets to become strong, dynamic leaders.  In order to complete the program, one must earn 10 points.  These 10 points will be comprised of a minimum of six points from the core curriculum, and the remaining points will be filled with electives. Student-athletes must have completed four points by the end of sophomore year and six points by the end of junior year to be able to continue in the program. While this program is not an accredited part of the University curriculum, student-athletes must complete 10 points in order to complete the Carnegie Mellon Student-Athlete Leadership Development Program. 



Year One (Fall): The Importance of Teamwork (1 point) - Greg Shelley

First-year student-athletes are invited to participate in an engaging discussion with sports psychologist Dr. Greg Shelley on the importance of teamwork and buy-in within a varsity program. Dr. Shelley emphasizes how commitment to a team’s goals is shown through effort, attitude, body language, and response to adversity. Through this session, first-year students are encouraged to use their voice while also being introduced to the concept of leading by example.


Year One (Spring): Initiative, Volunteering, CMU Community Outreach (1 point) – SLICE and Athletics

First-year student-athletes learn about the value of taking initiative while being introduced to opportunities to positively impact the CMU and Pittsburgh communities through volunteering and civic engagement.  Students are also instructed in methods to actively and positively engage the campus community to increase the visibility and awareness of the athletics department.



Year Two (Fall): Career Development (1 point) – CPDC

Career and Professional Development Center leads a session that introduces student-athletes to the various resources available for them on campus, preparing them for post-undergraduate success.


Year Two (Fall): Mentoring, Networking, Camaraderie (1 point) – Andrew Girard

Second-year student-athletes are introduced to the mentoring program and will have the opportunity to sign up for the program.  Importance of serving as both mentors and mentees will be stressed, along with the value of networking and an understanding of both formal and informal networks.  Senior and junior student-athletes will be involved to reinforce the teachings and to continue to build camaraderie between all of the varsity athletic teams.


Year Two (Spring): Real-World Leadership with Alumnus Mark Weinsten (1 point)

Sophomore student-athletes, who want to be seen as emerging leaders within their teams, join alumnus Mark Weinsten for a discussion about how leadership as a student-athlete can translate into the workplace. Weinsten is the Managing Director of Berkeley Research Group in Boston, and was recently interim CEO of Manischewitz.


Year Three (Fall):  A Conversation with the Director of Athletics (1 point)

Junior student-athletes will have the opportunity to have a conversation with Carnegie Mellon Associate Vice President of Student Affairs and Director of Athletics Josh Centor, who will facilitate a conversation about leadership and how his athletic experiences have helped shape his life and role at the university.


Year Three (Spring): Defining Individual Leadership (1 point) – Buddy Hobart

Junior student-athletes with at least four units of core curriculum completed are eligible to participate in DISC Assessment training with Buddy Hobart, President and CEO of Solutions21 and Tartan Men’s Basketball alum.  The student-athletes complete an individual leadership assessment through this program and Hobart leads a discussion on the different types of leadership that exist. He stresses the importance of understanding your own style while appreciating differing approaches to leadership, and the strengths and weaknesses of both.


Year Four (Fall): Captains – Leading and Motivating (1 point) – Greg Shelley (Captain’s Circle)

A leadership session specifically designed for captains, this session will connect the captains from all the sports for an engaging session about how to lead and motivate a variety of different individuals. Topics covered will include in-depth looks at different styles of leadership, emotional intelligence, and successful ways to motivate others.


Year Four (Spring): Being a Leader in Your Own Life (1 point)

All senior student-athletes are invited to the Athletics Senior Dinner where they will hear from different speakers on the transition from college student to successful career-minded individual. Alum Roger Roble, president of Roble, Belko & Company speaks on what to expect when the cheering stops, while alum and retired Tartan Cross Country Head Coach Dario Donatelli emphasizes the importance of giving back to the community and serving as a strong mentor to young people.



Volunteering (Pittsburgh and/or CMU)

CMU Campus Engagement (attending non-athletic CMU events, promotion of athletics, etc.)

Speaker Sessions (campus leaders, professors, community leaders, etc.)

Health and Wellness Initiatives

Membership in SAAC

Mentoring program participation

Participation as student-leaders in core curriculum


*Other activities as approved by program directors

*Each month an email will be sent with approved activities to earn units towards your certification of completion of the program

*Student-athletes can monitor their progress in the program via this link



Student-athletes completing the program will be honored at the year end athletics banquet in front of fellow student-athletes, coaches, department administrators, as well as university leaders and senior administration.


It is important to note:

Current Seniors (Class of 2019) will only need to accumulate seven points, with at least three from the core curriculum, to receive the certificate of completion for the Carnegie Mellon Student-Athlete Leadership Development Program.

Current Juniors (Class of 2020) will need to accumulate ten points, with at least five from the core curriculum, to receive the certificate of completion for the Carnegie Mellon Student-Athlete Leadership Development Program.


Have questions? Contact Andrew Girard or Kim Kelly