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The Centennial Annual Meeting


AAC&U Annual Meeting
January 21-24, 2015
Grand Hyatt Hotel / Washington, DC


Call for Proposals

Please Join Us for AAC&U’s Centennial Annual Meeting

It is possible for you to skip ahead to the “Online Proposal Form,” but we suggest you read through the following information first. Once you have started completing the form, you will not be able to save the data for submission at a later date.

The deadline for proposal submission is Tuesday, July 15, 2014.

Description of the Meeting
Centennial Themes
For Digital Learning and E-Portfolio Communities
Information to Include
Writing a Strong Proposal
Session Formats
Interactive Sessions
How to Submit a Proposal
Final Reminders
Dates to Remember
If You Have Questions


As we stand at the threshold of AAC&U’s Centennial, the need for higher learning has never been more evident.  Economic prosperity, democratic vitality, and global progress all depend on the continued advance of new knowledge, on the full development of human talent from all sectors of society, and on citizens’ capacities and commitment to connect new knowledge with the world’s urgent challenges and problems—economic, ethical, political, intercultural, and environmental.  In the 21st century, human and societal flourishing must be our goals, and to achieve these goals, we will need to significantly expand both our global learning and global partnerships.  College graduates will need more—and more cosmopolitan—liberal learning, not less. 

And yet, ironically, even as the need for expanded learning grows, the perceived benefits of both higher education and liberal education—to individuals and to society—have come under withering scrutiny.  Policy leaders are skeptical, families and first-generation students are anxious.  And—in this era of disruptive innovation—proposals abound for virtually starting over in postsecondary education with reinventions of core practices or for focusing the postsecondary curriculum on job preparation primarily.

Responding to this volatile mix of high stakes and high skepticism, the Centennial Annual Meeting will both highlight and explore the intensity and inventiveness with which educators are working to prepare today’s diverse students for a world of global interconnection—in the economy, society, and their own lives.  We will celebrate the ways that members are using AAC&U’s long-term initiative, Liberal Education and America’s Promise (LEAP), to drive creative educational change, support greater student success, connect college learning with the wider society, and raise the level of both inclusiveness and quality.

The meeting also will highlight a host of interrelated initiatives—across many disciplines, institutions, and sister organizations—that collectively are working to advance a clearer conception of the learning 21st-century students need, and to ensure the value and transparency of the degrees and credentials we award our students. 

AAC&U’s Centennial Annual Meeting will, in sum, both explore and advance members’ efforts to double down on both quality and innovation to make equity a shared compass, and to document educational success by showing, tangibly and powerfully, what students can successfully do with their learning beyond the classroom.  We will show how educators are both embracing the essential aims and outcomes of a 21st-century liberal education, and fostering these capacities across the entire educational experience, in professional and career programs as well as the liberal arts and sciences.  And we will explore new ways that educators are “making the case” for the necessary connections between liberal learning, the equity imperative, and Americans’ global future.

We invite your proposals on one or more of the following Centennial Themes:


These sessions will explore ways to better engage our students, our publics, and our own colleagues with the multiple purposes of higher education—intellectual, economic, civic, and personal—and with searching questions about what it means to connect each of these goals with the realities of global interdependence:  the flourishing societies and futures we seek, and the grand challenges and “wicked problems” that impede the way.

  • How do we adapt our curricula so that all students develop a deeper understanding of global cultures, developments, and interconnections, whatever their majors and whatever their career goals?
  • How is education changing to connect college learning with big complex questions important to global flourishing—economic, societal, and personal?  How are educators fostering the intellectual, practical, and motivational capacities basic to collaborative problem solving?  The preparation and competence to work and learn with people from—and in—all parts of the world?
  • How are institutions preparing students for the new demands of global turbulence and integration in the economy and workplace? 
  • How are institutions aligning and integrating global learning, inquiry-based learning, and STEM success?   How can educators strengthen these connections and show their value to US STEM leadership?
  • How do the humanities, arts, and social sciences contribute to students’ preparation for shared futures in an interconnected world?  What is their particular value in building global competence and contributing to global flourishing—economic, societal, civic, and personal?  How can educators strengthen that value and make it visible to the wider society? 
  • What can US-based institutions learn from a renewed focus on liberal education, general education, and democratic learning in nations around the world?  How is liberal education “translated” and “reinvented” in other cultural and political contexts?  What changes?  What endures?  What can US educators learn from global partners?  From the many emerging global collaborations?  From global partners’ views on the connections between broad learning and a creative economy?
  • How does—and can—the digital revolution strengthen higher education’s capacity to foster global learning and collaborations? What is being learned from innovations and experiments that are already in play?  What are the most promising digital innovations on the horizon?
  • How is the higher education community engaging employers, trustees, and other stakeholders with the central connections between liberal learning and Americans’ continued global leadership—in the economy, for human freedom and dignity, and in creating solutions to the world’s grand challenges and difficult problems?  How do we both develop and demonstrate the connections between global flourishing—societal and individual—and the quality of students’ liberal learning in college?



The Annual Meeting will explore ways to build both public will and campus capacity to provide an opportunity-expanding and affordable education for America’s “New Majority” students:  low-income, racially and ethnically diverse, often older, likely working, and frequently juggling family as well as educational responsibilities.  We seek examples and evidence about innovations such as “blended degree programs”—combining high tech and high touch—that connect the goals and hallmark outcomes of liberal education with students’ practical career interests, ensuring that first-generation students and all students are well prepared to navigate a changing economy and not just trained for an immediately available job opening.  We also seek sessions on  “guided pathways” across two- and four-year institutions to better support first-generation student success and research evidence about the effects of such innovations on persistence, learning, and success beyond college.

  • With students from groups traditionally underserved now recognized as the “New Majority” in higher education, how are colleges, universities, and community colleges working to support their persistence and their achievement of a high-quality education?  How are educators combining liberal and applied learning to better serve today’s students?
  • How—and how well—are educators making the case for liberal education as opportunity expansion for first generation learners? Translating stated commitments to inclusive excellence into practice?
  • How are institutions working to expand and strengthen all students’ participation in high-impact educational practices?  Finding ways to make high-impact practices affordable?  Finding ways to incorporate high-impact practices in digital and virtual learning environments?
  • How are the roles of community colleges changing? As leaders in blending liberal and applied studies, what are community college educators learning about the impact of these innovations?
  • How are two- and four-year educators aligning curricula with other national reforms, such as the Common Core Standards and the emphasis on competencies or proficiencies across the curriculum?
  • What are the most promising practices to reverse the loss of STEM talent and support higher levels of success in STEM for students from underserved groups and for women?
  • How are faculty linking STEM content with big, complex, global questions? Does student engagement in such problem-centered work increase persistence in STEM?
  • What are the connections among faculty diversity, changing faculty roles, and student success?  How is faculty innovation in student-centered teaching, learning, and assessment supported and rewarded?
  • What progress is being made on faculty diversity?  On equity and support for contingent faculty?
  • What policies and mindsets stand in the way of making excellence inclusive and how can we—AAC&U and educators working together— build new commitment to a US equity imperative?



Here we seek sessions on ways to ensure—and document—that our curricula and pedagogy, both high touch and high tech, are well designed to foster the hallmark outcomes that characterize liberal learning for a globally interconnected society:  broad and deep knowledge; strong intellectual, collaborative, and problem-solving skills; civic, ethical, and global engagement; and practical experience in working across difference to apply learning to new settings and new problems.  We also seek sessions on promising ways to engage learners with cross-disciplinary inquiry—e.g., into global problems and into big questions about human flourishing and well-being.   We especially invite proposals that illustrate both national and regional efforts to strengthen liberal and general education and tie it directly to the new realities of global interdependence.

  • How—and with what success—are educators working with partners to show the value and power of a 21st-century liberal education to stakeholders, families, policy leaders, and the wider public?  Are national advocacy efforts for liberal education, the liberal arts, and the humanities having an effect?
  • How—and with what results—are educators engaging students—of all backgrounds—with their own stake in achieving the hallmark outcomes (described above) of a strong—and globally adept—liberal education?
  • How are institutions strengthening the connections between college learning and students’ preparation for a difficult economy?  Between college learning and the challenging problems we need to solve at home and abroad?
  • AAC&U’s LEAP initiative has affirmed that general education is in need of significant revision to help students integrate their broad and specialized learning and apply their learning to cross-disciplinary problems in both early and advanced study.  What is working and what barriers need to be overcome as institutions create vertical and integrative designs for general education?  How can virtual and digital resources strengthen general education and students’ integrative learning?  How do new programs expand equitable access to powerful forms of learning?
  • If students are to achieve the hallmark outcomes of a strong liberal education, their majors must play a central role.  What are the best examples of departments, disciplines, and career fields that are tackling the challenge of ensuring students’ readiness to connect their majors with the economy, the global community, and democratic society?
  • What is being done to restore the connections between college and civic learning?  Between college and students’ exploration of values, meaning, and a sense of purpose in their own lives?
  • The concept of “whole-person” learning is gaining currency in other parts of the world.  How can it be recovered in US contexts?
  • As educators experiment with e-portfolios and other assessment innovations, is assessment now becoming a catalyst for continued institutional improvement?  How strong is the evidence that e-portfolios should be recognized  as a high-impact educational practice?
  • What are the most promising ways of using assessment to demonstrate what students are gaining from their education?  How are educators assessing students’ development of broad learning, examined values, and applied learning and larger sense of purpose and direction?  What tools are being used to assess students’ global learning and engagement?  What is being learned from such efforts?
  • Can new student transfer policies within and across systems facilitate progress toward degrees while also increasing student achievement of key learning outcomes—e.g., learning outcomes specified through LEAP and/or the Degree Qualifications Profile?
  • What role will accreditors play in ensuring students’ preparation for a globally interconnected world? Where are they heading in their historic support for students’ achievement of both broad and specialized learning?



AAC&U invites you to bring your work and insights on digital learning and e-portfolios in all of their many facets to the Annual Meeting, as well as to the special Forum on Digital Learning and E-Portfolios—"Global Positioning Systems: The Digital Age and E-Portfolios"—on Saturday, January 24. We want all of our work to be influenced by and incorporate the opportunities presented through the evolving technology of our Digital Age.


The AAC&U Community is working harder than ever before to make the benefits of a horizon-expanding liberal education a resource for all college students and for the wider society.  The challenges are real but so is your determination and creativity.   With your help, our Centennial Annual Meeting will be an inspiring and catalytic celebration of educators’ best efforts—across all parts of the higher education community—to ensure a vibrant future for our graduates and for America's global future.




Proposal Abstract (400 words)
The abstract should describe the content and significance of the session, as well as how it relates to the theme of the meeting.  Participants will be most interested in new information, innovative programs, and proven results. 

Brief Description (150 words)
This description will be used for the final program.  Please remember that—should your proposal be accepted—a participant’s decision to attend your session will be based in large part on this description.  We encourage you to make it as accurate, and compelling, as possible.

Intended Audience (25 words)
Please indicate who would best benefit from attending this session.

Expected Learning Outcomes (50-75 words)
Please describe—or list—the outcomes with which you hope the audience members will leave the session—i.e., the “takeaways.”



All proposals should reflect current work, recent findings,
and/ or new perspectives.

  • Priority will be given to proposals that link the work of multiple institutions and reflect diverse perspectives, innovations, disciplines, and programmatic areas.  Joint submissions from across campuses, consortia, and campus-community partners are encouraged, and we particularly welcome student perspectives.
  • The AAC&U audience particularly appreciates sessions that illustrate the perspectives of different organizational roles (e.g., faculty members, department chairs, deans, provosts).
  • AAC&U is committed to presenting an annual meeting at which sessions and participants reflect the pluralism of our campus communities.  Please include presenters who bring diverse perspectives and life experiences to the topic or issue your proposal addresses.
  • We encourage proposals that address the challenges encountered – not just the successes.   As noted in a meeting evaluation: “I appreciated hearing about how well a new program was working, but I found it more valuable to hear about some of the challenges that were eventually overcome.”
  • Sessions should engage participants in thinking about how they might translate and adapt this research or project/model/innovation to their own institutions or professional settings.  “Show and tell” submissions that have little or no applicability to other institutions will not be considered.  
  • We ask that you present work that has proven effective and is well beyond the planning stages.
  • Do not read your paper at the Annual Meeting. This is the top complaint from audience members each year.  Proposals that refer to the presentation as “this paper” will be not be considered.
  • Please keep in mind the time reserved for dialogue when determining how many speakers you include with your proposal.


  • A proposal that simply describes the work of one particular program or project, and is not applicable or of interest to a broad audience, is likely to be scheduled as a 30-minute session or roundtable discussion, rather than as a stand-alone session.
  • Proposals that promote products or services available for purchase will not be considered through the regular proposal process, but will be referred to AAC&U’s Sponsorship Program.  More information about sponsorships for the Annual Meeting is available by writing to



  • The AAC&U audience continues to appreciate—and request—shorter sessions.  We strongly encourage presentations that are crisp, current, and creative.
  • All Annual Meeting sessions will be 30, 60, or 75 minutes in length.   (HEDs Up sessions will include five 10-minute presentations within a 75-minute session.)

NEW INFORMATION: Due to a recent schedule change, sessions for the Digital Learning and E-Portfolio Forum on Saturday will be 45 minutes in length. The online form does not offer a 45-minute selection, however, so please use the 30- or 60-minute option. We will inform all presenters for the Forum of this time change.

  • With the exception of the 10-minute session, all must include opportunities for dialogue with participants.  


“HEDs UP” – Higher Ed Session
HEDs UP is a format in the model of “TED Talks.”  HEDs Up presentations are limited to 10 minutes.  The presentation should focus on an innovative project or program, compelling research, or “lessons learned.” 

Since we will both be looking back and looking forward at the Centennial, we also encourage presentations of reflection or projection.   Did the “new ideas” of decades ago pan out—and what did/can we learn from them?  What is “the next big idea”—and who should we be listening to? 

HEDs Up presentations should be provocative, challenging, and, above all, interesting.   (Bonus points for being entertaining, as well.)   One moderated 75-minute session will consist of five presentations to ensure that the session is lively and moves quickly to the next speaker.   It is especially important in this format that no papers be read.


The following formats can be presented in 30-, 60-, or 75-minute time slots.

E-Portfolio Session
Please include a demonstration and/or links to student or institutional work, if possible.  
NOTE: We encourage proposals on e-portfolios for inclusion in the Annual Meeting (on Thursday and Friday) and/or for the Forum on Digital Learning and E-Portfolios on Saturday, January 24.

Digital Learning:  A Focus on Technology
Presentation of curricular models or programs that use new technologies to enhance teaching and learning.
NOTE: We encourage proposals on digital learning for inclusion in the Annual Meeting (on Thursday and Friday) and/or for the Forum on Digital Learning and E-Portfolios on Saturday, January 24.

Panel Presentation
Traditional format with presentation(s) followed by discussion among the speakers and/or with the audience. 

Research Session
Presentation of findings, works in progress, or new methodologies pertaining to the meeting themes.

Discussion Session
Brief presentation(s) with the primary focus on discussion with or among audience members.

Seminar Sessions
Seminar sessions were a popular addition in 2014, and we plan for additional seminars in 2015.  Seminar Sessions are small group discussions—limited to 20 participants—on topics being actively discussed and debated within higher education today.  The Seminar Leader (typically one person, possibly two) will facilitate discussion and provide opening statements and/or provocative questions to open the discussion.  Background readings are welcome but not necessary.  Proposals for Seminar Sessions should include a description of the topic, the approach the Seminar will take, and supporting evidence that the topic is one of significant interest to the AAC&U audience.

The 2015 Annual Meeting will include opportunities for AAC&U members to share strategies and successful examples of academic and institutional leadership at all levels.  These will be informal discussions, and participants will be welcome to rotate among several discussions or focus on one.  We encourage Roundtables on the following topics:

Signature Programs
We welcome proposals from AAC&U members with programs of distinction that are widely recognized for their effectiveness in providing students opportunities to gain and demonstrate Essential Learning Outcomes. Although signature programs cannot be simply replicated, others can benefit from learning about the challenges and the rewards of building such programs.  

Emerging Technologies and Digital Innovations
We encourage you to share examples of current practice or next-stage planning on how technology is transforming teaching and learning, whether online, in the classroom, or via hybrid models.  Examples might include a focus on instructional delivery, innovative content, assessment tools, or the application of cutting edge learning sciences.  We also welcome roundtable discussions on “what’s next.”

Equity and Inclusive Excellence
We welcome roundtables on strategies and innovative designs for learning that support higher levels of attainment for all students, particularly for those who remain underserved at all levels of our educational system.  How do institutions across all sectors of higher education improve and expand high-impact practices and increase student achievement?


Internet Access and the Potential for Interactive Sessions

  • Annual Meeting participants will have Internet access available at all sessions of the Annual Meeting.  We encourage speakers to take advantage of this opportunity and provide a more interactive experience for the AAC&U audience.
  • We encourage you to post your PowerPoints and Handouts prior to the Annual Meeting—and provide those links to AAC&U—so participants can access this information before, during, and after your presentation.
  • If you have links to such materials at this time, please provide the URL address with your proposal.  AAC&U will also write to all speakers in the autumn requesting session materials.



The following applies to proposals submitted for the Annual Meeting, as well as for proposals submitted for the Forum on Digital Learning and E-Portfolios (on Saturday, January 24).

Electronic Submission:
Please submit your proposal electronically as directed on the online proposal form. If you need assistance, please contact Suzanne Hyers at, Alexis Krivian at, or call 202-387-3760.

Please submit your proposal on or before Tuesday, July 15, 2014.

You should receive an automatic message indicating receipt of your proposal when it is submitted. If you do not receive this message, please send an e-mail to Suzanne Hyers at

Final Confirmation re: Receipt of Proposal:
AAC&U will send an e-mail on or before August 3 to every Contact Person as a final confirmation of receipt of your proposal. Please make a note of this. If you do not receive this e-mail, it is possible that your proposal was lost in the data transfer.

You will be notified via email by September 30, 2014, regarding the status of your proposal.

Registration Fees:
All presenters at the Annual Meeting are responsible for the appropriate registration fees. Please be sure all presenters submitted in your proposal have this information. Registration materials will be available online beginning September 15, 2014.

Final Reminders:

  • Please complete all fields, including information pertaining to all additional speakers.
  • Please include links to supplemental materials, if available.

By submitting a proposal, you agree to:

Register and pay fees, if the proposal is accepted.

Inform your co-presenters about the proposal’s status and the need for all presenters to register and pay fees.

Dates to Remember:

July 15, 2014
Proposals due to AAC&U

September 15, 2014
Registration materials available online

September 30, 2014
Acceptance (or rejection) of proposals sent to all Contact Persons

If You Have Questions or Need Additional Information

Please do not hesitate to contact us at or to call AAC&U at 202-387-3760. We look forward to receiving your proposal.


Session proposals must be received by July 15, 2014.