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LEAP States Initiative

The LEAP States Initiative brings AAC&U and member campuses into intentional work together toward systemic change. Through local campus and public policy leadership, the initiative supports public advocacy and curricular renewal for liberal education. The initiative builds platforms for campus action and frameworks to advance essential learning outcomes in general education and across institutional sectors. Through targeted, system-based work, the initiative fosters cross-campus collaborations to raise levels of inclusion and success for all students.

The current activities of the LEAP States Initiative are focused on the Quality Collaboratives, two- and four-year campus transfer partners working together in nine states to align transfer policy and practice around the authentic assessment of student competencies. Campus- and system-level teams in each LEAP State are collaborating over the next three years to test degree frameworks and to develop policy recommendations and assessment tools to serve this goal.

This project and other ongoing work in California, Wisconsin, and Oregon are built on the groundwork of Give Students a Compass, a 2008-2011 project that connected individual campuses and system offices in those three states to renew general education and to expand practices that lead to success for traditionally underrepresented and underserved students.

LEAP states include:

  • California: the California State University System
  • Indiana: the Indiana Commission for Higher Education, public and private institutions
  • Kentucky: public two- and four-year universities in Kentucky
  • Massachusetts: public colleges and universities in Massachusetts
  • North Dakota: public, private, and tribal colleges and universities
  • Oregon: the Oregon University System
  • Texas: LEAP Texas, a voluntary coalition of institutions of higher education in Texas
  • Utah: the Utah System of Higher Education, public and private universities and colleges
  • Virginia: private institutions, public institutions affiliated with the State Council of Higher Education for Virginia (SCHEV)
  • Wisconsin: the University of Wisconsin System and the Wisconsin Association of Independent Colleges and Universities (WAICU)

State teams are either formal, state-level system entities or informal collaboratives of regional campuses, including both private and public colleges (two-year and four-year) and universities.

The LEAP States Initiative also includes consortial partners, such as the Council of Public Liberal Arts Colleges and The New American Colleges and Universities.

The LEAP States Initiative provides

  • A framework for state higher-education systems (whether formal entities or collaboratives) to align their programs—system wide and campus wide;
  • A national voice for systems within the LEAP campaign;
  • Practical advice on large-scale efforts to apply LEAP Essential Learning Outcomes and assessment practices (see the VALUE Project);
  • A national leadership network for transformational change and inclusive excellence within and across systems.

Other News

Member Institution UW-Whitewater Hosts Gallery Exhibit Highlighting LEAP
The Roberta A. Fiskum Art Gallery at the University of Wisconsin-Whitewater will open an exhibit titled "Let's LEAP: A Vision for Learning, " highlighting the university’s work as part of AAC&U’s centennial initiative Liberal Education and America’s Promise (LEAP). The exhibit, on display April 16–23, 2014, showcases student learning artifacts and a range of projects created by the university’s LEAP teams over the last four years. The current LEAP team will also host a reception at the exhibit on April 23. The reception will include student testimonials and presentations on the Essential Learning Outcomes and other elements of LEAP by senior university administrators. For more information about how UW-Whitewater uses LEAP principles on campus, click here.

2013 LEAP States Summit

June 25-26, 2013
Renaissance Boulder Flatiron
Broomfield, Colorado

Academic leaders and faculty in our official LEAP States—and also in states or consortia engaged in related reform efforts—are actively seeking to advance systemic work related to general education, assessment, inclusive excellence, high-impact practices, and student success.  As the number of LEAP and related reform initiatives has grown, we recognize a growing interest in understanding ways to use LEAP to help integrate multiple initiatives, strengthen internal and external communications, and enhance projects on the ground.

Summit Resources include:

Contact Kara Hawkesworth at or Bethany Sutton at for more information about the LEAP States Summit.

LEAP Compass II Project Featured in San Francisco Chronicle
San Francisco State University and City College of San Francisco have built a partnership called Metro Academies, designed to help students thrive through high-quality engaged learning for transfer success. The curriculum features aligned courses and intensive advising that builds a foundation in the first two years and moves students successfully to the baccalaureate. Read the San Francisco Chronicle article. Learn more about the LEAP Compass II Project.

Employers Speak on a Liberal Education
A LEAP Day webinar presentation from the University of Wisconsin Whitewater, California State University System, and AAC&U featuring two live panels of employers discussing liberal education.

Peer Review: Spring 2011 Peer Review: Spring 2011

The Spring 2011 issue of Peer Review is on the topic of Lessons on Systemic Reform from the LEAP States Initiative. It features educational and curricular reform work of institutions and state systems involved in the Initiative—focusing on how selected state systems are using the LEAP essential learning outcomes as a shared framework for student achievement, accountability, school-college alignment, and underserved student success. The lessons learned are framed to be useful to those in a wide range of institutions working toward educational reform. Read excerpts or purchase copies here.

For more information, please contact Susan Albertine, Vice President, Office of Diversity, Equity, and Student Success, at