Olivet College

Women’s Leadership Institute


In 1844, Olivet College’s (OC) founders recognized the need for an educational community founded on the values of inclusion, mutual respect, honesty and integrity. From the start, OC admitted women and persons of color on a coequal basis with men. This was 19 years prior to the enactment of the Emancipation Proclamation, four years before the movement for women’s rights was launched on a national level, and 76 years before women had the right to vote. Our founders did so in a time when those in power and the greater society did not pervasively embrace these values. Moreover, in the midst of the Civil War, Olivet College’s first three graduates were women in 1863. Since our beginning and for nearly 175 years, OC has been empowering and inspiring women to achieve their dreams.

Olivet College has had, and continues to have, a lasting impact on the lives of women in myriad ways. This is evidenced not only in our rich history, but also through strong female leadership on our board of trustees, faculty and administration and most importantly through the successes of our student body and alumnae. Today, the young women that comprise nearly half the college’s student body thrive in all facets of campus life – from the classroom, to athletics, to various organizations and leadership roles.

While strides have been made, Olivet College recognizes that women still face considerable social, work force, economic and political challenges of disparity and inequity. In recognizing the need to inspire and develop the next generation of women leaders, Olivet College’s 2020 strategic planning action team on inclusion and diversity made recommendations that would further evolve the college’s stance on inclusivity and leadership. This resulted in a directive from the Office of the President in 2016 to establish an Olivet College Women’s Leadership Initiative that would strengthen and sustain the college’s rich history of supporting and inspiring young women. To launch this initiative, a chair was appointed and charged with planning and executing a successful women’s leadership development event for current and prospective students.

As part of the beginning stages of planning, a group of dynamic campus volunteers and an Advisory Council made up of some of Michigan’s finest women leaders, including successful OC alumnae, were recruited. They assisted the chair with implementing the inaugural Cultivating Women Leaders (CWL) event and began forming the Olivet College Women’s Leadership Institute (OCWLI). The first CWL event was held on March 3, 2017, and was hugely successful at garnering over 250 attendees. Thirty percent of the CWL prospective student attendees will be matriculating at Olivet College in the fall of 2017.


Olivet College Women’s Leadership Institute Program Development

Olivet College believes the best way to create a better future for both current and prospective students is to present them with meaningful opportunities to learn and grow in ways that encourage them to tap their full potential. The Olivet College Women’s Leadership Institute is designed to inspire young women to unlock their potential by devising opportunities for them to develop crucial relationships, professional proficiencies and self-confidence as well as inspire them to be self-advocates and champions for individual and social responsibility.

Building on the success of our first Cultivating Women Leaders event, Olivet College is now positioned to expand and grow this into a yearlong women’s leadership development program targeting current and prospective Olivet College students. The CWL event and all other initiative programing will fall under the overarching Olivet College Women’s Leadership Institute.



Develop a sustainable and endowed Olivet College Women’s Leadership Institute that creates a trajectory from past to present to future for women leaders.



Cultivate confident women leaders who embrace their authenticity in order to facilitate and lead positive change.


  1. Create a comprehensive women’s leadership education program that will be meaningful and impactful for girls and young women that are current and prospective students of Olivet College.
  2. Create and implement a strategy for recruiting young women to Olivet College.
  3. Create the structures to support the program’s goals and objectives and ensure program sustainability.

To learn more, email WLI@olivetcollege.edu