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Multi-Institutional Study of Leadership

The MSL Returns in 2019 with Annual Data Collections Offered!

The Multi-Institutional Study of Leadership enters a new phase of its history today with the announcement that it is returning to an annual data collection schedule - with enrollment open for the Spring 2019 (January - April, 2019) study! 

In 2012, with mounds of quality data on leadership development in hand and little time to analyze and write articles from it, the research team decided to reduce the pace of the study to a 3-year cycle.  This would allow for one year of data collection; one year of analysis and writing; and one year of revising/updating the research.  This practice has served the study well with data collections in 2012, 2015, and most recently in 2018 -- it made the study what it is today, a high quality research program with a strong conceptual model and based on a theoretical framework that gives University administrators and Institutional Researchers the power they need.

The past year has been a busy one for the MSL.  The MSL Study Principal Investigator (PI) Dr. John P. Dugan moved to The Aspen Institute as their Director of Program Quality, Design, & Assessment; about 80 schools participated in the MSL2018; a new book was released on the topic of leadership theory (written by Dr. Dugan); there was renewed focus on the use of the MSL in evaluating campus climate; and the study received consistent and strong interest from many past participating schools to participate in the MSL in "off cycle" years.

The result of these successes and requests is that the MSL is returning to an annual cycle effective immediately!

Schools may enroll today for the MSL2019 Spring data collection!

Schools who have participated previously in the MSL are being offered a limited time discount if they enroll and pay before July 1, 2018.  Schools interested in obtaining this discount are asked to contact the study team at

Please stay tuned to the website in the coming days and weeks to learn more about this exciting new development!

MSL Enters New Phase Of Growth With Record Early Enrollment & Principal Investigator Transition To The Aspen Institute


Ann Arbor, Michigan – July 7, 2017

As preparations have begun for another implementation of the Multi-Institutional Study of Leadership (MSL), and with nearly 60 schools enrolled for the MSL2018 implementation (a record enrollment for the study at this stage of early recruitment), study Principal Investigator (PI) Dr. John P. Dugan has announced his move to The Aspen Institute as their Director of Program Quality, Design, & Assessment.

Dr. Dugan will continue to shepherd MSL as part of his new role. The Aspen Institute's support as a new sponsor of the MSL will provide tremendous opportunities for exposure to a broader range of thought leaders and a multitude of new opportunities for the study.  Dugan said, “The MSL is growing up.  The study has matured through years of nurturing by the relatively small MSL research team.  It is now time for it to flourish.  We have a lot of exciting plans for the coming months and years for the MSL - we look forward to sharing those with you as they unfold.”

The MSL has thrived for over a decade through a collaborative approach to leadership education research -- by partnering with schools and various organizations to collect data that informs practice at the local level while providing a rich data source for scholarship at the national and international levels.  These partnerships have led to:

  • More than 350 colleges and universities in six countries participating in the study across seven data collection implementations (2006, 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012, 2015 and now 2018).
  • Over 30 publications in peer-reviewed journals (and many more dissertations, presentations, and other deliverables) extending our knowledge of how best to approach leadership development.
  • Development of solid research methods, including innovations in survey contact methodologies and web-based survey design.

The next stage of growth for the MSL involves:

  • Continuing to develop strategic partnerships to further extend the beneficial reach of the MSL as a tool for education, assessment, improvement, benchmarking, and research.
  • Efforts that will lead to steady growth of the study while maintaining its focus on quality--to this end, the MSL will immediately remove its 100 school limitation for the MSL2018 implementation.
  • An investment in the technology/infrastructure supporting the operational elements of the MSL-- many of which will be initiated immediately in preparation for the MSL2018.

Schools who have participated in the MSL in past years are unlikely to experience any major differences in how the MSL unfolds in the short term-- with the exception of it being a larger study and some outwardly visible technology enhancements which will be announced later this summer.

SoundRocket , led by Scott D. Crawford, will continue as the operational arm of the MSL and will deepen its partnership with the MSL in the coming months.  Crawford said, “In 2005, when we collaborated with John and his research team on the implementation of the first MSL in 2006, we were collectively navigating a new model for the conduct of large scale survey data collection that combines a research agenda with a beneficial and immediate service to participating schools. We are excited to continue to extend this model as we collaborate on implementing a new reach for the MSL.”  The MSL, in 2006, helped SoundRocket shape a service line - SoundRocket Innovative Research Collaboratives (IRCs). Today, it is the largest IRC study administered by SoundRocket.

Enrollment for the MSL2018 is currently open, and schools may enroll before August 1, 2017 and receive an early enrollment discount.  Enrollment is completed online. Standard enrollment for the MSL2018 closes December 1, 2017.  An updated list of already enrolled schools may be found through the recent news section of the MSL website.

More information about the Multi-Institutional Study of Leadership is available online at:

Twitter: @MSLconnection


SoundRocket ( is an Ann Arbor-based social science survey research firm founded by a University of Michigan graduate, Scott D. Crawford, and formerly known as Survey Sciences Group, LLC.  SoundRocket’s purpose is to propel social science forward for the greater good.  Its mission is to develop and deliver innovative, science-guided survey methodology practices and services to the global community of social science researchers.

Since its founding in 2004, SoundRocket has been involved in conducting hundreds of social science survey projects.  SoundRocket has an expertise in collecting data from college students and data on sensitive topics.   Currently, SoundRocket is currently preparing for the MSL2018.


Scott D. Crawford

950 Victors Way, Suite 50
Ann Arbor, Michigan 48108

Ph: 734-527-2150

Twitter: @SoundRocket