The Wilson Leadership Fellows Program is a four-year leadership program designed for a select group of motivated, energetic freshmen who wish to make a difference in their communities today and tomorrow.

Benefits of Becoming a Wilson Leadership Fellow

In addition to earning fast-track access to the Wilson Center for Leadership in the Public Interest, the benefits to each Fellow will include:

  • Practical leadership experience
  • Close-knit community of engaged students and faculty
  • Enhanced academic advising
  • Access to nationally-recognized thinkers and speakers
  • Skills to transform self and society

Who Should Apply

Students who have already made a difference in their communities, in their clubs and organizations, or on their sports teams as participating members or leaders; or students who believe they have the talent and will to be successful leaders are excellent candidates for this program and encouraged to apply. Candidates selected for the Program will develop these skills:

  • Ethical decision-making
  • Effective leadership for diverse contexts
  • Active citizenship
  • Civil and rational exchange of ideas

The Application Process

To become a Wilson Leadership Fellow, a student must already have been granted admission to Hampden-Sydney and must submit a separate Wilson Leadership Fellows Program application by March 1 of his senior year. Appointments will be made no later than April 10.

Required Materials

  1. A Wilson Leadership Fellow nomination form submitted by a Hampden-Sydney alumnus, high school principal, headmaster, teacher, coach; religious or community leader; employer; local, state, or U.S. government official; or anyone who can attest to the applicant's current leadership experience and potential as a leader on our campus
  2. The Wilson Leadership Fellow application and essay
  3. A personal interview on-campus, to be arranged by the Admissions Office
    Interviews will be conducted between March 1 and April 10.

The application process will open on December 15th

The Four-Year Program

Freshman Year
Fellows will become a part of the Martin Leadership Program which includes a pre-term workshop and a series of seminars and workshops on leadership. The purpose of the program is to help students gain a sense of emotional intelligence and social awareness. An increased sense of social awareness will prepare Fellows to lead more thoughtfully when they assume formal leadership roles in student government, athletics, or other campus or community organizations.

Sophomore Year
Fellows will join the Society of ’91, a three-decade old leadership development program dedicated to the premise that “those who would be great are those schooled to serve.” The program endeavors to equip Fellows with skills and abilities needed to effectively assume and carry out current and future leadership responsibilities. Faculty, staff, and alumni seek to help students to live lives exhibiting positive attitudes, behavior, and sound values.

Junior Year
The purpose of year three is to provide Fellows with the opportunity to think and reflect about what it means to live a good life. They will consider how faith, relationships, family life, vocation, service and philanthropy shape personal goals and ambitions. Faculty and staff endeavor to help students develop a meaningful framework to ensure habits and actions are consistent with personal values. We are concerned not only with what our young men want to do, but who they want to be after graduation.

Senior Year
The purpose of year four of the Wilson Fellows program is to support Fellows as they demonstrate their leadership abilities. The program will implement a learn, do, reflect model. Fellows will learn from experienced alumni, community leaders, faculty and staff. They will apply what they have learned in the classroom sessions (using concepts provided as part of the Compass curriculum) to on and off campus service opportunities. Fellows will reflect upon those experiences in order to combine theory and practice.

The Namesake

General Sam Wilson headshotSoldier. Spy. General. Director. President. Farmer. At one point or another, all those titles referred to Lieutenant General Samuel V. Wilson (USA, Ret.) one of the most revered leaders at Hampden-Sydney College—and its president from 1992 to 2000.

Upon his high school graduation in 1940, young Sam Wilson heard the call of service and enlisted in the Virginia National Guard. Over the course of his career, he rose through the ranks, to serve as a Lieutenant General in the U.S. Army. General Wilson's lengthy career in the Special Forces and military intelligence took him from the WWII-era jungles of Burma, where he fought with the legendary Merrill's Marauders, to the streets of Berlin and Moscow during the Cold War, where he was a leader in U.S. intelligence operations, ultimately serving as deputy director of the CIA and director of the Defense Intelligence Agency.

General Wilson's counsel was often sought by leaders including U.S. Presidents Nixon, Carter, Ford, and George H. W. Bush. His leadership and expertise was essential in establishing the Army's elite Delta Force.

General Wilson received an honorary degree from H-SC in 1979, and began teaching courses at the College on national security in 1981. In 1992, he became the 22nd president of the College. General Wilson passed away in June of 2017.