Champlain College's David L. Cooperrider Center for Appreciative Inquiry (AI): The First Academic Center Exclusively Dedicated to Advancing the Theory and Practice of AI

Lindsey Godwin and David Cooperrider.

Burlington, Vt. (Nov. 8, 2014) - The David L. Cooperrider Center for Appreciative Inquiry at Champlain College, dedicated today, becomes the only academic center in the world focused entirely on Appreciative Inquiry. AI, as it's known by practitioners across the globe, emphasizes a strengths-based approach to organizational development and management.

Co-created by Dr. David L. Cooperrider, Appreciative Inquiry is embraced by a broad spectrum of business and social sector leaders and executives. The stated purpose of the Center is to educate leaders to be the best in the world at seeing the best for the world, in order to discover and design positive institutions - organizations and communities that elevate, magnify, and bring our highest human strengths to the practice of positive organizational development and change.

Dr. Cooperrider, a global thought leader in AI and positive organizational development, will serve as honorary chair of the Center, act as strategic consultant for the Robert P. Stiller School of Business at Champlain College, and participate in executive workshops at the College's Burlington, Vermont campus and in other locations.

The internationally-renowned academic leader, business consultant, motivational speaker, and author of 15 books has a long affiliation with Vermont through Bob Stiller, the founder of Green Mountain Coffee Roasters. Stiller embraced Appreciative Inquiry to build the socially responsible and successful publicly-traded company in its early days. The Cooperrider Center is made possible through a transformational $10 million gift received in 2012 from Bob and Christine Stiller to support programs in Appreciative Inquiry and positive organizational development at Champlain College.

"The Stiller School of Business at Champlain College welcomes Dr. Cooperrider to an institution that is fast becoming the finest professionally and globally-focused small college in the U.S.," said Donald Laackman, president of Champlain College. "Teaming with Dr. Cooperrider, our growing network of scholars, executives and certified Appreciative Inquiry practitioners will demonstrate and teach how strengths-based organizations can and do succeed."

President Donald Laackman speaks at the opening of the David L. Cooperrider Center. Ranging from the U.S. Navy to the sand and oil-and-gas exploration company Fairmount Santrol (NYSE: FMSA), organizations are embracing Appreciative Inquiry to create healthy systems that vault the companies or nonprofits to where they want to be instead of focusing on what's wrong and needs to be fixed.

U.S. Navy Admiral Vern Clark, who later became the chief of naval operations, tapped Appreciative Inquiry to challenge the ways leadership works within the traditional military command-and-control structure. With sailors sitting next to admirals, the practice of Appreciative Inquiry helped the U.S. Navy save $2 billion while the organization's empowerment scores shot up.

Fully engaged with the concepts of sustainable development and Appreciative Inquiry since 2005, Fairmount Santrol links strengths to its sustainability strategy, demonstrating growth in sales and profitability year after year with the motto: "Do Good. Do Well." In October 2014, the company began trading on the New York Stock Exchange.

In Winooski, Vermont, Twincraft Skincare is in the early stages of implementing Appreciative Inquiry, but the manufacturer of private label bar and liquid soap already has experienced better manufacturing efficiencies, lower labor costs, increased quality control and considerably more employee engagement at all levels of the privately held company.

"It's a great skill to be able to reframe budding problems into opportunities, and to seize the positive potential in every situation," said Wes Balda, dean of the Stiller School of Business at Champlain College. "These are the talents that our Appreciative Inquiry team will be honing with management students and business and nonprofit leaders from around the world."

Wesley Balda and David CooperriderIn Vermont, interest in the power of Appreciative Inquiry is spreading. Vermont's Secretary of Education, Rebecca Holcombe, leads 10 conveners using Appreciative Inquiry during a two-day event - "Green Mountain Imperative: A Breakthrough Summit on Public Education" - to be held on November 17-18. Next March, the Cooperrider Center for Appreciative Inquiry will be working with the ECHO Lake Aquarium and Science Center in Burlington to facilitate the second Leahy Center Environmental Summit, using Appreciative Inquiry to bring together stakeholders from across the region to produce specific actions that will help address social and structural resiliency for flooding and stormwater issues related to climate change.

In addition to his role as the honorary chair of the Center, David L. Cooperrider, Ph.D., Professor of Organizational Behavior, holds the Fairmount Santrol - David L. Cooperrider Professorship in Appreciative Inquiry at the Weatherhead School of Management at Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland, Ohio.

Dr. Lindsey Godwin, a 2008 Weatherhead alumnae with a Ph.D. in organizational behavior who is an associate professor of management at the Robert P. Stiller School of Business, will be leading the academic aspects of the Center. Having collaborated with Dr. Cooperrider for years, Dr. Godwin has become an internationally recognized scholar in Appreciative Inquiry through her work chairing past World AI Conferences, guest editing the AI Practitioner Journal, and consulting with organizations around the world. Drs. Cooperrider and Godwin are currently working on a new book about positive organizational development.

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About the Cooperrider Center for Appreciative Inquiry, Stiller School of Business at Champlain College

The David L. Cooperrider Center for Appreciative Inquiry aims to be the global center of excellence in Appreciative Inquiry and strengths-based organizational management. Based in the Robert P. Stiller School of Business at Champlain College in Burlington, Vermont, the Center offers educational programs, research, Appreciative Inquiry certification, and consulting services for companies, organizations and social sector clients. To find out more about the Center, visit To learn more about the Robert P. Stiller School of Business at Champlain College, visit

Founded in 1878, Champlain College is a small, not-for-profit, private college in Burlington, Vermont, with additional campuses in Montreal, Canada, and Dublin, Ireland. Champlain offers a traditional undergraduate experience from its beautiful campus overlooking Lake Champlain and over 90 residential undergraduate and online undergraduate and graduate degree programs and certificates. Champlain's distinctive career-driven approach to higher education embodies the notion that true learning occurs when information and experience come together to create knowledge. Champlain College is included in the Princeton Review's The Best 384 Colleges: 2019 Edition. For the fourth year in a row, Champlain was named a "Most Innovative School" in the North by U.S. News & World Report's 2019 "America's Best Colleges,” and a “Best Value School” and is ranked in the top 100 “Regional Universities of the North” and in the top 25 for “Best Undergraduate Teaching.” Champlain is also featured in the Fiske Guide to Colleges for 2019 as one of the "best and most interesting schools" in the United States, Canada and Great Britain and is a 2019 College of Distinction. For more information, visit