Membership Programs Meetings Publications LEAP Press Room About AAC&U
Association of American Colleges and Universities
Search Web Site
Resources on:
Liberal Education
General Education
Student Success
Institutional Change
Civic Engagement
Global Learning
Science & Health
Connect with AACU:
Join Our Email List
RSS Feed
Follow us on Twitter
LEAP Toolkit
Support AACU
Online Giving Form

Bringing Theory to Practice

Leadership Coalition


Under the Bringing Theory to Practice Project, 53 university and college presidents have formed a national Leadership Coalition, committing their campuses to becoming models for what liberal education can offer—and most effectively deliver. The formation of the Coalition was made possible with the support of the S. Engelhard Center, the Charles Engelhard Foundation, the Christian A. Johnson Endeavor Foundation, and the Lumina Foundation.

Bringing Theory to Practice requested applications and plans from interested institutions of all types offering baccalaureate degrees. Over the next two years, the 53 colleges and universities selected will be offered grant support from BTtoP and its generous donors as they develop a Leadership Coalition.

As active participants in the Coalition, these colleges and universities will seek to create campus cultures that enhance the academic well-being and civic development of their students. The institutions will demonstrate how to achieve greater faculty and student interaction, broaden reward structures, and elevate expectations through the creation and maintenance of carefully sustained civic engagement programs. In doing so, they will provide models for how institutions can fully address and advance the intellectual, emotional, and civic dimensions of their students.

In addition to receiving grant support, the participating institutions have agreed to:

  • Hold relevant internal conversations regarding the institution’s commitment to a call for a “campus culture for learning,” what that will mean for their campus, and what strategies they may employ.
  • Establish a leadership/planning team that would initiate plans to fit their own institutional culture.
  • Put their plans into practice beginning in the calendar year of 2009, and a retrieval and dissemination conference will occur in 2010. The campus projects will constitute the examples that will become the central features of a nationally distributed publication, promulgating the institutions as models of successful, effective and affordable “Strategies for Change in Creating and Sustaining Campus Cultures for Learning.”


The initial activity of the Coalition was a Presidents' Symposium, held at the Georgetown Conference Center in Washington, DC, November 10-11, 2008. The Symposium featured presentations on the latest research on learning and institutional change, and new educational models that have been adopted by institutions of various types. Presenters and discussion facilitators included scholars, researchers, institutional leaders, foundation leaders, and professional leaders. This diverse group of presidents formed the nucleus of the Leadership Coalition. Of those that attended the Presidents' Symposium, 39 presidents and their institutional teams submitted proposals to join the Leadership Coalition over the next two years, forming the first "phase" of Coalition institutions to receive support from BTtoP.

From April 19-20 in Washington, DC, campus personnel from the 39 institutions comprising the first phase of the Leadership Coalition came together for a Follow-up Conference, confirming their commitment to the objectives of the Leadership Coalition of presidents and institutions advancing the transformative promise of liberal education.

In the Coalition's most recent step, 14 campuses were added to those institutions already participating. The presidents of these institutions met on April 27, 2009 in New York City for a Presidents Seminar, a one-day conference introducing them to the Coalition and inviting them to join in the work of the original 39 campuses.

The BTtoP Project and its funders extend their congratulations and express profound respect for the achievements exhibited by those institutions participating in the Leadership Coalition, and recognize their presidents as national educational leaders.

Conferences and Meetings:

Visit the Past Events page for more information on past Leadership Coalition gatherings.

Leadership Coalition Institutions:

39 joined November, 2008

Allegheny College
New England College
Bates College
Pitzer College
Bennington College
Sarah Lawrence College
Bryn Mawr College
School of the Art Institute of Chicago
Butler University
St. Edward's University
California State University-Chico
State University of New York at Geneseo
Clark University
State University of New York-Purchase College
Colorado College
The Evergreen State College
Dickinson College
The Richard Stockton College of New Jersey
Drury University
University of Maine at Farmington
Elizabethtown College
University of Southern Maine
Elon University
Ursinus College
Franklin and Marshall College
Wagner College
Franklin College
Wartburg College
Georgetown University
Washington & Jefferson College
Heritage University
Washington and Lee University
Lebanon Valley College
Westminster College
Long Island University
Wheelock College
Marlboro College
McDaniel College
Montclair State University

14 joined April, 2009

Bowling Green State University
Southern Arkansas University
Gettysburg College
State University of New York at Cortland
Ithaca College
The College of Wooster
Morehouse College
The New School for Liberal Arts, Eugene Lang College
Muhlenberg College
Tufts University
Pace University
Vancouver Island University
Roosevelt University
Widener University

Leadership Coalition Resources

Lynn Swaner's Campus Change for Learning: Leading a Category Shift in Liberal Education

Ashley Finley, BTtoP Cost Study 2008 (PowerPoint presentation)

Video presentation on the Georgetown University Intensive Site Project
(External link through the Engelhard Center web site)

Richard Keeling and Richard Hersh, Presentation 1 (PowerPoint in external link*)

Richard Keeling and Richard Hersh, Presentation 2 (Powerpoint in external link*)

*These presentations are in viewable PDF format that will open in full screen/ presentation mode. To exit full screen mode and review individual slides, simply press escape.