History of Women's Institute for Global Leadership
In late 2007, University President William Carroll requested that Tanesha D. H. Pittman create a proposal to revitalize Benedictine's Weekend College program. When the proposal was submitted, President Carroll asked that she develop a program specifically for women. Immediately thereafter, Ms. Pittman began benchmarking with women's colleges to determine the types of degree programs offered. She learned that majority of the degrees offered at these institutions were teaching, nursing, social work, women studies, etc. However, she also discovered there were a number of institutions that had leadership institutes or offered leadership seminars/workshops.
After extensive research of the women colleges, Ms. Pittman explored for-profit institutions and found numerous co-ed degree programs for leadership. As a result of these findings, Ms. Pittman hosted a focus group of women and administered an electronic survey to determine the needs of women. The data garnered from these methods was later utilized for developing courses.
In 2008, Ms. Pittman appointed approximately 20 amazing women to serve on the MSL Women's Advisory Council (WAC). The WAC was created as a recommending body to support the development, growth and sustainability of the MSL program. These phenomenal women devoted their time twice a year to provide their talents, resources and leadership expertise. Also, course developers were sought after to assist with writing and designing titles for the curriculum for 16 courses. These creative individuals diligently worked on building their respective courses by 2009.
In 2009, Ms. Pittman submitted a grant proposal to obtain seed money for the MSL program. Congresswoman Judy Biggert endorsed the program and sought congressional support. Soon after, a launch celebration was held to commemorate the successful "birthing" of the MSL program and acknowledge the Congresswoman's commitment.
In early 2010, a press conference was held to promote the funding awarded by Congress and extend gratitude to Congresswoman Biggert. The funding resulted in making a graduate level education affordable for many underserved/underrepresented women via tuition scholarships.
Additionally, following a mass exposure campaign and presentations, further support was gained in the form of letters of encouragement/acknowledgement from U.S. Vice President Joe Biden, Ambassador Margaret Scobey, Cairo, Egypt, Former Congresswoman Debbie Halverson and Illinois State Representative & House Leader, Tom Cross.
The fruit of this labor was evidenced on August 28, 2010 when the inaugural group of 20 impressively diverse and bright women commenced as a learning team. This learning team began their journey of taking their required 16 courses on the weekends. During this time, each student was assigned their own professional mentor. The mentors are leaders in their respective fields, who are paired with the students to be a professional resource during the course of their academic program and even beyond. This support system, upholds the program goal of women lifting women as they climb on their respective leadership journeys. Due to women's growing interest in the MS degree in Leadership locally and around the world, the degree program will be available online in August 2011 to reach an international audience.
In 2011, Dean Michael Carroll requested that Ms. Pittman pioneer a women's institute. Because of the global phenomenon on women in leadership, the pursuit began to establish a women's institute with a global focus that will offer a myriad of academic and non-academic leadership programs for women around the world to cultivate a unified empowerment exchange – Women's Institute for Global Leadership. The institute launched on June 28, 2011.
These collective efforts have produced the unique creation of a ground breaking degree program, the Master of Science degree in Leadership, specifically designed for women by women, as well as the Women's Institute for Global Leadership. The seeds sown have blossomed into a powerful atmosphere for emerging global female leaders to thrive.