National Leadership Seminars

Hillsdale College National Leadership Seminars — also known as NLS — are held nationwide two to three times each year and address issues of politics, economics, and culture.

The first program was held in Colorado Springs, Colorado, in 1982 with about 200 business, education, and community leaders in attendance. Since then, more than 20,000 individuals have attended the programs.

The messages of these conferences have reached millions of Americans through Hillsdale’s national speech digest, Imprimis, as well as through coverage by media outlets including Newsweek, the Wall Street Journal, C-SPAN, and National Public Radio.

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Mission

The National Leadership Seminar program was founded with a clear mission: “to foster enlightened leadership and informed decision-making for America’s third century by communicating the fundamental principles of freedom and order on which Western civilization is based.”

History

When the National Leadership Seminars (formerly known as the Shavano Institute for National Leadership) began in 1982, Hillsdale College was in the midst of a legal battle with the federal government. The Department of Education had ruled that the College could no longer accept students who were receiving federal student aid, such as the GI Bill, unless it submitted to Title IV of the Higher Education Act. Hillsdale believed this ruling to be unconstitutional.

The administration and board of trustees of Hillsdale College, recognizing this attack on its independence as part of a larger threat to the freedoms and way of life established by the principles of the American founding and the Constitution, saw the need for a program that would gather America’s business, education, and community leaders to promote the ideas of limited government, free-market economics, individual liberty, personal responsibility, and a strong national defense.