Shortly after the Louisiana Purchase in 1803, Thomas Jefferson was faced with the decision of who to trust to lead the expedition westward. He chose Captain Meriwether Lewis, a native of Albemarle County and one of his personal aides. Lewis was just 29 years old. Along with his close friend William Clark, Lewis led a resoundingly successful transcontinental expedition, losing only one member of his crew to appendicitis. The Expedition – and its leadership – was widely praised as a crowning achievement of Jefferson’s presidency.
In founding the University of Virginia, Thomas Jefferson envisioned a new kind of university, one dedicated to educating leaders in practical affairs and public service rather than for professions in the classroom and pulpit exclusively. The Lewis Institute aims to develop young leaders like Meriwether Lewis, equipping students with the tools they need for effective leadership both on the University’s Grounds and beyond.
A New Approach to Self-Governance
Student self-governance has been a part of the University of Virginia since its earliest days. Today’s students take this core value to heart, and it remains a foundational part of their UVA experience. The Meriwether Lewis Institute for Citizen Leadership is a multiyear fellowship program that equips students for a lifetime of leadership. Participating students benefit from life-changing experiences right here on Grounds. The Lewis Institute bolsters student self-governance by equipping students to take on roles as leaders and innovators while on Grounds. Students give back to the University in meaningful ways, embracing this experience as a training ground for citizen leadership.
The MLI Program aims to develop a network of citizen leaders who will be empowered to pay forward what they learn through the program to their respective communities.
The Meriwether Lewis Institute for Citizen Leadership at the University of Virginia is a multi-year leadership initiative that prepares students for a lifetime of leadership and service at the University and beyond. The program brings together a diverse cohort of scholars who will take the skills, resources, and relationships they gain and:
1. Share them with their networks to create a stronger, more inclusive culture of student self-governance at UVA.
2. Become more knowledgeable and effective partners for change at the University and beyond.
Key Program Elements
The Meriwether Lewis Institute for Citizen Leadership at the University of Virginia is a multi-year fellowship that prepares students for a lifetime of leadership at the University and beyond. The Institute brings together a diverse group of U.Va. students for a 2.5-year immersive leadership experience. Each cohort of Lewis Fellows is comprised of 30 students selected in the fall of their second year at the University. The program has three key elements: