January/February 2012
Front Page Feature Facts & Figures News & Events Perspectives On the Road Postings Archive
About AACU
Press Room

Meetings and Institutes

At AAC&U’s Annual Meeting, 2,000 Participants Explore New Models for Civic Learning, Ways to Ensure that All College Students Receive a Globally Engaged Liberal Education

Educational leaders from around the country and the world gathered in Washington, DC, from January 25–28, 2012, for AAC&U’s Annual Meeting, titled Shared Futures, Difficult Choices: Reclaiming a Democratic Vision for College Learning, Global Engagement, and Success. Among other issues, participants discussed how colleges and universities can implement recommendations from A Crucible Moment: College Learning and Democracy’s Future, a report released at the White House on January 10 (see below). Speakers and sessions at the meeting focused on how to make civic, democratic, and global learning pervasive rather than peripheral on today’s college campuses and showcased examples from institutions of all types that are successfully building upon democratic visions and practices in complex, global contexts. Other sessions addressed new models for liberal learning and progress made on assessment and accountability since the release last year of the Degree Qualifications Profile—the new framework for clarifying the meaning of college degrees in the twenty-first century. See the full program and additional information about the meeting online.


White House Event Focuses on Reclaiming the Civic Mission of Higher Education

On January 10, AAC&U participated in a national convening at the White House that brought together educational and civic leaders from across the country and launched a movement to make civic learning a priority for all students. The White House convening, “For Democracy’s Future: Higher Education Reclaims Our Civic Mission,” included remarks by Secretary of Education Arne Duncan, Under Secretary of Education Martha Kanter, and AAC&U President Carol Geary Schneider, and featured the release of a new report, A Crucible Moment: College Learning and Democracy’s Future. The report was developed by the National Task Force on Civic Learning and Democratic Engagement, of which President Schneider is a member, and was prepared at the invitation of the US Department of Education under the leadership of Larry A. Braskamp, president of Global Perspective Institute Inc., and AAC&U Senior Vice President Caryn McTighe Musil. See Secretary Duncan’s prepared remarks and a blog post by AAC&U President Carol Geary Schneider. President Schneider's prepared remarks are also online. Read the press release, view the full report and highlights from it, or learn more about other AAC&U civic learning resources and projects.


Network for Academic Renewal 2012 Conferences: Registration and Calls for Proposals Now Available

The 2012 Network for Academic Renewal conferences are now accepting session proposals and registrations.

General Education and Assessment: New Contexts, New Cultures
February 23–25, 2012—New Orleans, Louisiana
For more information and registration, please visit:   http://www.aacu.org/meetings/generaleducation/index.cfm

Student Success: Pushing Boundaries, Raising Bars
March 22–24, 2012—Seattle, Washington
For more information and registration, please visit: http://www.aacu.org/meetings/studentsuccess12/index.cfm

Modeling Equity, Engaging Difference: New Frameworks for Diversity and Learning
October 18–20, 2012—Baltimore, Maryland
For more information and Call for Proposals, please visit:

Next Generation STEM Learning: Investigate, Innovate, Inspire
November 8–10, 2012—Kansas City, Missouri
Call for Proposals and registration information coming soon.


Save the Date—AAC&U’s 2012 Summer Institutes

The Institute on General Education and Assessment will take place June 2–6, 2012, in Ellicott City, MD, and will offer campus teams opportunities to refine and substantially advance campus projects on general education and its assessment. The application deadline is February 17, 2012.

The Institute on High-Impact Practices and Student Success will take place June 19–23, 2012, in Portland, OR, and is designed to help campuses develop intentional and integrative plans to strengthen student learning and student success. The application deadline is March 1, 2012.

The Institute on Integrative Learning and the Departments—formerly the Engaging Departments Institute—will take place July 11–15, 2012, in Burlington, VT, and is designed for campus teams who are working to implement change that deepens students’ integrative capacities over time—including their ability to connect disciplinary knowledge and inquiry to responsible choices and actions. The application deadline is March 16, 2012.

More information and application materials for these three institutes are now online.



PKAL Announces New Project on Institutional Change in STEM Education.

Project Kaleidoscope and AAC&U have announced a new initiative to develop a comprehensive Institutional STEM Effectiveness Framework to help campus leaders translate national recommendations into scalable and sustainable actions that improve STEM learning and success for all students. Funded by the W.M. Keck Foundation, the project will engage up to twelve colleges and universities in California to test evidence-based strategies that will lead to program, departmental, and, eventually, institutional transformation.


PKAL Action Lab II on Two-Year/Four-Year Partnerships to Facilitate Student Transfer in STEM Fields

PKAL recently launched a series of national summits or “action labs” on developing effective models for transfer of students in STEM fields from two-year institutions to four-year institutions. Following Action Lab I, held last fall in Indianapolis, Action Lab II will be held in Seattle, March 20-22, 2012. Supported with funding from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, these events bring together leading institutions working toward building, strengthening, and expanding programs for guaranteed transfer from community colleges into STEM programs at four-year institution. For more information, see the Action Labs web page.


PKAL Summer Institutes

The PKAL Summer Leadership Institutes will take place July 17–22, 2012, and July 31–August 5, 2012, in Crestone, CO, and are designed for early- and mid-career STEM faculty engaged in transforming undergraduate STEM education in their classrooms, departments, and institutions. Application information is now available; application deadline is April 6, 2012.


Project Highlights

Community Colleges Invited to Participate in New Project on Civic and Democratic Learning through the Humanities

AAC&U and The Democracy Commitment (TDC) have received a $359,995 grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities to support the formation of a new community college network focused on civic learning and democratic capacity-building. The funding will support a three-year curriculum and faculty development project called Bridging Cultures to Form a Nation: Difference, Community, and Democratic Thinking. The project will begin with a call for proposals to community colleges across the country, leading to the selection of ten to twelve teams of humanities faculty and administrators. The project will support faculty and curriculum development and will result in new humanities courses that teach skills and knowledge essential for responsible citizenship in a diverse and globally connected world. For more information, read the press release. The Call for Proposals is now available at http://www.aacu.org/bridgingcultures/cfp.cfm.


AAC&U Announces Colleges and Universities Chosen to Test New Degree Qualifications Profile

Sixteen colleges, community colleges, and universities have been chosen to participate in the Quality Collaboratives Initiative, a new project supported with funding from the Lumina Foundation and designed to advance systemic change in eight higher education state systems. Institutions chosen to participate in the initiative will test ways to assure that students can demonstrate achievement of essential competencies across all areas and levels of learning, regardless of where they begin or end their educational journeys. This project is part of Lumina Foundation’s beta testing of the value of a shared Degree Qualifications Profile. See the press release for the full list of participating institutions.


BTtoP to Publish Civic Provocations Monograph Spring 2012

The Bringing Theory to Practice Project (BTtoP) announces the spring 2012 publication of the “Civic Provocations” monograph, which will include thirteen “provocations” regarding civic learning. These provocations, written by leading scholars and civic educators who attended the November 2011 BTtoP National Civic Seminar, stimulate deeper consideration of multiple aspects of the complexities surrounding civic engagement. Brief summaries and the framing questions used to structure the civic seminars that occurred on nineteen campuses in the United States and Europe during 2011 as part of the Civic Seminar Initiative are also included. The Project will also be announcing grant support that will enable further conversations and dialogues generated by the new report A Crucible Moment: College Learning and Democracy’s Future (the promulgation of which was supported by BTtoP). Grant support will give further incentive to hold the campus conversations, and the provocations monograph will point to directions for further consideration and actions.


Other AAC&U News

Graduate Students Honored with K. Patricia Cross Future Leaders Award

Eight graduate students were honored as 2012 recipients of the annual K. Patricia Cross Future Leaders Award, a distinction given to graduate students who show exemplary promise as future leaders of higher education, who demonstrate a commitment to developing academic and civic responsibility in themselves and in others, and whose work reflects a strong emphasis on teaching and learning. The award is named in honor of K. Patricia Cross, professor of higher education, emerita, at the University of California, Berkeley. For more details about the 2012 recipients see the Cross Award winners. The 2012 Cross Scholars were honored at AAC&U’s Annual Meeting in January (see related story) where they presented the session “Faculty of the Future: Voices from the Next Generation–A Conversation with the K. Patricia Cross Future Leaders.”


AAC&U Presents 2012 Frederic W. Ness Book Award to Why Choose the Liberal Arts? by Mark W. Roche

AAC&U announced the winner of its Frederic W. Ness Book Award: Why Choose the Liberal Arts? (University of Notre Dame Press, 2010). The Ness award is given to a book that best illuminates the goals and practices of a contemporary liberal education, and was formally presented to the author, Mark W. Roche, at AAC&U’s Annual Meeting in Washington, DC. In his book, Roche lucidly and passionately argues for the essential value of the liberal arts. He draws on more than thirty years of experience in higher education as a student, faculty member, and administrator, and deftly connects the broad theoretical perspective of educators to the practical needs and questions posed by many students and their parents.


New Guidelines for Assessment and Accountability from New Leadership Alliance

AAC&U has joined twenty-seven other national higher education organizations to endorse Committing to Quality: Guidelines for Assessment and Accountability, published by the New Leadership Alliance for Student Learning and Accountability. The guidelines insist that higher education must focus on both the quality and quantity of degrees, and recommend that colleges and universities set clear goals for student achievement and conduct assessment of student learning toward those goals. The new Guidelines are also fully consistent with earlier recommendations from AAC&U’s board of directors in Our Students’ Best Work. Speaking about the New Leadership Alliance guidelines, Executive Director David Paris notes that, "The endorsement of these guidelines by national organizations sends a clear message that higher education will speak with one voice and embrace evidence-based improvement of student learning." AAC&U President Carol Geary Schneider serves on the board of directors for the alliance. See the full list of endorsements here. On January 24, AAC&U President Carol Geary Schneider and New Leadership Alliance Director David Paris commented on the new quality guidelines on NPR's Morning Edition.


AAC&U Member Schools Receive AGLS Award for Assessment Programs

George Mason University and Stetson University received recognition for their exemplary programs of general education assessment during the 51st Annual Association for General and Liberal Studies (AGLS) Conference in Miami in October 2011. The awards committee was especially impressed by Stetson’s multipoint assessment process, which assesses writing progress during the first and the last years of students’ education, and by George Mason’s focus on synthesis, which one judge noted as a “tricky topic” for which models are needed. For more information about the Exemplary Program Award, and for descriptions of George Mason and Stetson’s assessment programs, see agls.org.


Inside Higher Ed Audio Conference on “Restoring Civic Education”

The upcoming Inside Higher Ed audio conference “Restoring Civic Education” will include a presentation by AAC&U Senior Vice President Caryn McTighe Musil. This hour-long audio conference on Wednesday, Feb. 22 at 3:30 p.m. EDT will include a discussion about the implications on college campuses from AAC&U’s report, A Crucible Moment: College Learning and Democracy’s Future. The report was developed by the National Task Force on Civic Learning and Democratic Engagement, of which President Schneider is a member, and was prepared at the invitation of the US Department of Education under the leadership of Larry A. Braskamp, president of Global Perspective Institute Inc. (GPI), and AAC&U’s Senior Vice President, Caryn McTighe Musil. Register early to attend the audio conference – by February 13 – and pay just $149. AAC&U is pleased to share with our members this information about an audio conference being offered by one of our partners.


New Book of Interest to AAC&U Members—We’re Losing Our Minds

America is being held back by the quality and quantity of learning in college, say the authors of We’re Losing Our Minds. Many college graduates cannot think critically, write effectively, solve problems, understand complex issues, or meet employers’ expectations. Critics say higher education costs too much and should be more efficient but the real problem is value, not cost—financial solutions alone won’t work .Authors Richard H. Hersh and Richard P. Keeling argue that the only solution—making learning the highest priority in college—demands fundamental change throughout higher education.



A Crucible Moment: College Learning and Democracy's Future
The Drama of Diversity and Democracy: Higher Education and American Commitments—Second Edition (2011)
Liberal Education, Winter 2012: The Completion Agenda

Network for Academic Renewal Conferences:

General Education and Assessment: New Contexts, New Cultures
February 23–25, 2012
New Orleans, Louisiana

Student Success: Pushing Boundaries, Raising Bars
March 22–24, 2012
Seattle, Washington

Modeling Equity, Engaging Difference: New Frameworks for Diversity and Learning
October 18–20, 2012
Baltimore, Maryland

For more information on meetings, visit www.aacu.org/meetings/index.cfm