Doerr Institute’s Kolditz wins 2017 Bennis Award for Excellence in Leadership

Past recipients include former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani and former Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu

Tom Kolditz, director of Rice’s Doerr Institute for New Leaders, is the recipient of the 2017 Warren Bennis Award for Excellence in Leadership.

Tom Kolditz (Photo by Jeff Fitlow)

Tom Kolditz (Photo by Jeff Fitlow)

Established in 1999 by Linkage, a company offering leadership assessments, coaching, leadership training and workshops for leadership development, the award has recognized some of the world’s most impactful leaders, including former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani, the late Prime Minister of Pakistan Benazir Bhutto, former Prime Minister of Israel Benjamin Netanyahu, presidential biographer and historian Doris Kearns Goodwin, author and Harvard Business School Professor Rosabeth Moss Kanter, Rwandan humanitarian Paul Rusesabagina, Starbucks Executive Chairman Howard Schultz and many others.

The award is named for Warren Bennis, who is widely regarded as the “Dean of Leadership Gurus,” and honors individuals who demonstrate courage, endurance, capability and success in their field and are an inspiration for current and aspiring leaders.

“The list of previous Bennis awardees reads like a catalogue of my personal heroes,” Kolditz said. “I’m humbled to receive this award and excited that for the first time, a director of a university leader development program is being recognized.”

Kolditz, a retired brigadier general with more than 25 years of leadership experience, came to Rice in 2015 as the first director of the Doerr Institute. Previously he served as a professor in the practice of leadership and management and directed the Leadership Development Program at the Yale School of Management. His other experience in leadership roles includes 12 years leading the Department of Behavioral Sciences and Leadership at the U.S. Military Academy at West Point and two years as a leadership and human resources policy analyst at the Pentagon. Kolditz is author of “In Extremis Leadership: Leading As If Your Life Depended On It,” which is based on interviews with leaders and followers.

Approximately 25 percent of Rice students have participated in Doerr Institute programming to date. For more information on the Doerr Institute, visit For more information on the Bennis award and a full list of past winners, visit

About Amy McCaig

Amy is a senior media relations specialist in Rice University's Office of Public Affairs.