Excelling Leaders Institute

ELI Logo - Reads Excelling Leaders Institute Leading for a Better Tomorrow

What is ELI?

The Excelling Leaders Institute (ELI) is an undergraduate cohort program within The Cultural Center that helps to develop a close-knit community of emerging undergraduate campus leaders of today.

Our program guides its students from year one to graduation on a journey that incorporates a robust pre-orientation program called E-Week; a guided mentorship program where both seasoned mentors and first-year mentees mutually benefit; sessions, activities, and workshops that explore leadership and identity development frameworks and principles; connection to campus resources; access and support to pursue to leadership opportunities; and a space to meaningfully reflect on experiences as that shape their narratives in higher education.

Who is ELI?

Our program seeks scholars who:

  • want to cultivate leadership skills among a supportive community of peers
  • want to engage in campus events and experiences outside the classroom to deepen their connections to other students leaders, staff, faculty, and campus resources while they pursue and achieve academic success
  • value engaging with a community of students from diverse backgrounds, experiences, abilities, identities, and majors
  • demonstrate academic potential and an interest in becoming agents of change and leaders of tomorrow


Originally introduced to the University of Denver campus in the summer of 2006 by the The Cultural Center and Academic Advising, ELI began with a cohort of 17 students and has rapidly grown into a network of more than 150 student leaders on campus. ELI is designed to support incoming first-year students make the transition from high school to college.

Mission & Values


The Excelling Leaders Institute (ELI) seeks to create an open and inclusive campus environment where students from various backgrounds can come together to develop the skills of inclusive, self-aware leaders. ELI is a leadership development program that offers a close-knit community, encourages open dialogue, and equips students with the tools to be effective leaders of various student organizations at The University of Denver and in personal and professional pursuits post-graduation.


ELI is committed to providing quality support to a diverse group of learners. Our core values are:

  • Inclusion- We appreciate diversity and practice including all

  • Respect- We value others and regard them with consideration

  • Continuous Improvement- We embrace new knowledge and recognize that learning is endless

  • Integrity- We adhere to University of Denver policies and procedures and are committed to honesty, fairness, professionalism, and trustworthiness

  • Teamwork- We understand that every member of our team brings a unique perspective that is necessary in our program's success


ELI's Impact

The program consists of a one-week training in the areas of academic preparation, leadership development, social identity development, campus networking, and many other key components to ensure overall student success. This includes the ability to move into the residence halls early. Throughout their undergraduate journey at DU, ELI will provide programs that address academic success, professional growth, social engagement, and leadership development to challenge them as individuals and equip them to active change agents.

Incoming ELI Students

We are so excited to welcome the next class of ELI scholars for 2024-2025!

  • How do I accept my spot in ELI?

    Students wanting to engage in the ELI community next year, need to first apply:


    If you are interested in applying to any or all of these programs, please complete your application by Thursday, June 6 at 11:59 p.m. MT. All applications will be reviewed and students will be notified of acceptance on Monday, June 17. 
    Admitted participants will have until Wednesday, June 19 at 11:59 p.m. MT to confirm their participation in the program(s). If we do not hear from you by June 19, your seat will be awarded to another deserving student.

  • When will pre-orientation take place?

    Pre-Orientation with ELI is a great benefit of this cohort experience. Students get to arrive to campus for early to move (and beat the crowds!), get acclimated to campus, engage with ELI leaders and support staff, and meet their assigned peer mentor. Pre Orientation is a 3-day program that illuminates a variety of topics and experiences to support your college success.

    Pre-Orientation this year will be Friday, August 30- Sunday, September 1, 2024

  • What do I need to bring when attending pre-orientation?

    Pre-orientation is your move in date to campus, so plan to bring with you what you want to have available during your first quarter of the school year on campus. Refer to HRE packing lists to help identify the items that are best to have with you in the dorimtory.

    No specific supplies are required to participate in ELI pre-orientation. Bring yourself, comfortable clothing and comfortable shoes.

  • Do I still need to attend the university wide orientation?

    Yes! Pre-orientation is a way for ELI students to build community before the university orientation. All ELI students are expectedto attend the university orientation (called Discoveries Week) in addition to the pre -orientation held by ELI.

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Are you interested in ELI and have some questions?

Connect with our staff in The Cultural Center. Questions can be directed to Racheal.Aragon@du.edu.

Contact ELI!