welcome to the Caldwell Fellows website!

The Caldwell Fellows program at NC State University, building on the legacy of Chancellor (1959-1975) John T. Caldwell, invests in students selected during their first year at NC State who share a passion to learn, grow and serve others. Honoring his vision, the Caldwell program encourages scholars to “Think BIG” and facilitates the goal of maximizing the college

experience by providing intensive programming and leadership training, as well as by fostering collaborative interaction with alumni, faculty and community partners. Supported by endowers, this comprehensive program is dedicated to student development as individuals and as servant-leaders now and throughout their lives as NC State alumni.

A History of the Program

Students from the first NC Fellows Class

The NC State Fellows Program
The Smith Richardson Foundation in Greensboro founded five leadership development programs across university campuses in NC. When the Richardson grant funding ended, the NC State Alumni Association and the Division of Student Affairs made a commitment to continue the NC Fellows at NC State.

Caldwell Scholars kayaking

The Caldwell Scholars Program
Upon retirement of then Chancellor John T Caldwell, NC State alumni established the university’s first merit scholarship program for exceptional new students. The legacy of John Caldwell is one of servant leadership and it is this model of leadership the program strives to model and to engender in its Fellows.

Caldwell Fellows on an escalator

The Caldwell Fellows Program
Finally, these programs fully merged to better meet their mission of identifying passionate and talented students, while helping increase their leadership capacities and capabilities. The program in its current form extends the merit scholarship component of the Caldwell Scholars, with an additional enrichment-stipend scholarship awarded to help the student gain additional learning experiences during their time at NCSU.

The Legacy of John T. Caldwell

Chancellor John T. Caldwell

Hailed widely as one of the institution's most visionary and successful leaders, Chancellor Caldwell was well known for walking the campus and talking freely with students and faculty. He hosted dinners in his home, discussing with students the important questions of the day and the university’s response. He was a great builder of community and was constantly optimistic, positive, and looking ahead.

Program Components

A Comprehensive Program

Lead To Serve

The Caldwell Fellows program of experiences build upon one another, progressively deepening students’ development and designed to a create a lifestyle of learning and serving. Click here to learn more.

Executive Coaches and Mentoring

executive coaches speaking at a dinner

Executive coaches for the class of 2015 hold a pannel for students during a dinner seminar.

During their semester in the sophomore leadership seminar, Fellows meet monthly with an executive coach. These coaches guide students in personal and leadership development. The staff of volunteer coaches exemplify the spirit of mentorship that is passed on throughout the generations of Fellows. Alumni mentor current Fellows and upper-class students assume mentoring roles for younger Fellows.

Monthly Dinner Seminars

caldwells at dinner

Each month all classes of Fellows come together for a dinner seminar. The student planning team selects an annual theme for the dinners and creates dinner experiences that are highly participatory and often include special guests. These gatherings are the ‘family mealtime’ of the program and help maintain the vibrant community spirit that is characteristic of the Caldwell Fellows.

This year's theme is "The Greater Good".

Wilderness Leadership Experience

Angel's Landing

Caldwells at Angel's Landing in Zion National Park in Utah.

Since 1985, guided by Dr. Jerry Barker and a volunteer staff of wilderness leadership-certified Caldwell alumni, forty-one teams of Caldwell Fellows have undertaken the Caldwell Wilderness Experience. Based on the Outward Bound model, Caldwell expeditions take students to one of the pristine wilderness areas of the US for ten days of backpacking and leadership development. Dr. Barker’s recent book, “Pushing Boundaries: Students Remember 30 Years of Wilderness Challenge” captures the deep impact this core program experience has had on the alumni of our program.

Capstone Leadership Training at CCL

instructors and alumni

CCL trainer Bill Sternbergh with two generations of Caldwell Alumni Sumner Higdon (2013) and John Higdon(1986), both trained by Sternbergh as undergraduates.

The international headquarters of the Center for Creative Leadership in Greensboro typically hosts executives for high-level leadership training. Once a year for three days, Caldwell Fellows are in residence at CCL for their capstone leadership training experience. It is our shared roots that makes for this unprecedented partnership – the Smith Richardson Foundation launched two leadership initiatives: CCL for executive leadership development and ‘NC Fellows’ (our original name) for collegiate leadership development. For 43 years Fellows have trained at CCL and Bill Sternbergh, Senior Fellow for CCL, with his associates, has trained every class of Fellows. Inspired by the impact CCL had on his own development, one of our program alumni generously funds this annual experience for our senior Fellows.

Annual Class Retreats

caldwells on retreat

Senior Caldwells in the midst of a team-building exercise.

Recommitment to the program and to fellow Caldwells is enabled through annual class retreats. Each retreat’s content corresponds to deepening the ongoing leadership curriculum of the program. The Aqueduct Conference Center in Chapel Hill is the beloved location for the annual retreats, until the senior year when through the generous in-kind donation of Jerry and Pat Collier, students have a final retreat on the NC Outer Banks.

The Caldwell Gala/Fellowbration

group at caldwell gala

Alumni gather at 2015 Gala Fellowbration.

Caldwell Fellows celebrate opportunities for reuniting and rekindling connections to the values of the program and to one another. The annual Gala (aka “Fellowbration”) brings together alumni, current Fellows and family members and friends of the program. 2016 marks the 10th anniversary of the first Gala. CAM, in downtown Raleigh, will be the venue for this year’s big event on February 20th with special guests Chancellor Randy Woodson and Susan Woodson. Ticket sales will begin in mid-December.

Student Staff

A key aspect of the Caldwell Fellows leadership development model is to get out of the way, and let them lead. Students
assume significant responsibilities for the leadership of their
own program. Everyone is expected to be active with one of the many teams that do the work of the program.

Student team leaders for 2015-16

Service Learning Partners

The Kid’s Café program serves at-risk middle school students in the Avent West neighborhood near Centennial Campus. Students in the program enjoy some outside recreation, receive one-on-one help with homework, and partake in a hot meal courtesy of the Foodbank of Central and Eastern North Carolina. Caldwell Fellows serve as program tutors and mentors. In 2013, thanks in part by the efforts of a Caldwell alumni, Lenovo awarded Kid’s Cafe a technology grant. Caldwell Fellows have helped develop a technology enrichment program for the students.

Urban Ministries is an interfaith organization that strives to alleviate the effects of poverty in Wake County by meeting people’s basic needs for food, shelter and healthcare, providing services that promote self-sufficiency, building awareness of the issues of poverty within the larger community. Caldwells teach nutrition classes for clients of the Urban Ministries Center, utilizing a curriculum called “Cooking Matters."

Cooking Matters pic

The Wake County Chapter of NC Habitat for Humanity is undertaking an assessment study of the social impacts of affordable housing on education, employment, health, and family economics. The Caldwell Fellows work with the Faith and Advocacy Coordinator of Wake County Habitat to collect and analyze impact data that can in turn be used to educate and advocate for affordable housing.

Habitat for Humanity pic

The Social Entrepreneurship Initiative at the Institute for Nonprofits is a dynamic new program to educate and empower students, staff and faculty in innovative methodologies to improve the human condition. The mission is to create a vibrant ecosystem at NC State and beyond campus borders to teach, learn and practice social entrepreneurship. Caldwell work with the staff of the Center for Nonprofits to help grow the social innovation / entrepreneurship ecosystem at NC State.

The mission of The Justice Theater Project is to use the performing arts as a way to call public attention to the needs of the poor, the marginalized, and the oppressed. Caldwells work with the staff of JTP on projects to advance the mission of the theatre which includes helping with JTP events, promoting the JTP mission, and assessing the impact of JTP on the community.

Satellite (Science and Technology Enriching Lifelong Leadership in Tomorrows Endeavors) is a summer program for rural NC youth that was started and continues to be run exclusively by the Caldwell Fellows. The program strives to introduce its participants to the science and technology related disciplines at NC State. Five days of seminars focus on many of the different avenues of study in the College of Engineering, the College of Agriculture and Life Science, and the College of Physical and Mathematical Science. Through lectures and demonstrations by professors, on-site tours of facilities available for study and research, projects used to demonstrate industrial and research applications, and hands-on exercises, students begin to gain an understanding of which areas excite and interest them the most.

The Prairie Ridge Ecostation helps to further the mission of the NC Museum of Natural Sciences by enhancing public understanding and appreciation of the natural environment through providing an outdoor learning space while acting as a model for renewable and sustainable energy. Caldwells work on projects identified by the needs of the Prairie Ridge staff, including adding new components to the Nature Play Space, helping to remove invasive species, and helping staff public events.

Partners in Leadership Development

Click the logos below to learn more about our organizational partnerships

Robert F. Greenleaf Foundation

Originally formulated by Robert Greenleaf, servant leadership is an understanding of leadership that results from a desire to serve others first and is grounded in a strong sense of stewardship for one’s various communities (academic, professional, civic, national and global). Characterized by an emphasis on personal growth, community-building, principled behavior, collaboration and mutual empowerment, servant leaders build their passions from the bottom up.

Center for Creative Leadership

Both the foundation of the Caldwell Fellows and the Center for Creative Leadership were the vision of the Smith Richardson Foundation – to better current leaders and to insure committed and ethical leaders for the future. For forty years, this common history has also meant the chance for Fellows to attend a leadership training program at the CCL on its Greensboro, NC campus. The Fellows partnership is the only on-going commitment to student training in CCL's international network.