Illinois Leadership Center Announces $75K Gift from Rolls-Royce

Illinois Leadership Center Announces $75K Gift from Rolls-Royce
Left to Right: Rolls-Royce representatives Jim Bernacchi, Cory Nation, Jennifer Ko, and Dan Jensen with Dr. Gayle Spencer, Director of the Illinois Leadership Center, at recognition reception on Friday, March 8.

Champaign, Ill., March 22, 2019—The Illinois Leadership Center at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign has announced a $75,000 gift and five year commitment from Rolls-Royce to support the Rolls-Royce Innovation Program. The gift was recognized at a reception on Friday, March 8 at the Illinois Leadership Center. 

Rolls-Royce, one of the world’s leading industrial technology companies, providing highly-efficient integrated power and propulsion solutions, has been a valuable partner to the university for many years. Joe Krok, Program Lead, University Research Partnerships for Rolls-Royce, stated, “Illinois is one of our key university partners and an important part of our talent pipeline.  Our relationship with the Illinois Leadership Center and our support of the Rolls-Royce Innovation Program are prime examples of our efforts to develop the next generation of leaders at Rolls-Royce.”

The partnership between the Illinois Leadership Center and Rolls-Royce began in 2015 with a $45,000 three-year pledge to develop and establish the Rolls-Royce Innovation Program, a new i-Program focused on student skill development in areas related to innovation, creativity, and diversity. Participants also develop an understanding of their dominant problem solving style and its impact on organizations and people. “The Illinois Leadership Center is extremely grateful for the continued support of Rolls-Royce, particularly the financial commitment to the Innovation i-Program.  Rolls-Royce has always understood the value of leadership education for Illinois students and how these leadership experiences will allow our graduates to make a mark in the world as leaders,” added Dr. Gayle Spencer, Director, Illinois Leadership Center.

The Innovation i-Program has grown significantly since its inception. Currently, it is offered twice a year to approximately 200 students. The Rolls-Royce Innovation Program was most recently held on Saturday, March 9.

i-Programs are half-day seminars focused on a particular aspect of leadership practice. Trained facilitators assist in shaping the experience and learning environment of the seminars. Like all Illinois Leadership Center programs and services, the seminars are offered to Illinois students at no cost. Several Rolls-Royce executives and staff serve as facilitators for the Innovation Program, as well as other i-Programs, and as Leadership Certificate Coaches for students through the Illinois Leadership Center.

A truly mutually beneficial partnership, Illinois Leadership Center Director, Dr. Gayle Spencer, and other center staff members, travel annually to the Rolls-Royce headquarters in Indianapolis, Indiana to facilitate leadership training incorporating elements from the Rolls-Royce Innovation Program.

The Illinois Leadership Center, established in 2002 in the Office of the Vice Chancellor for Student Affairs, provides comprehensive leadership education to all students at Illinois through a unique partnership with the Office of the Provost. For more information, contact Angie Dimit, Director of Advancement for Student Affairs, via phone at (217) 244-1610 or via email at