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Press Room

Press Release

Contact: Debra Humphreys
Vice President for Communications and Public Affairs
202-387-3760 ext. 422

Association of American Colleges and Universities to Launch Campaign for Liberal Education at Meeting Celebrating 90th Anniversary

Participants to Explore the Emergence of a New Academy with Renewed Commitment to Liberal Education Outcomes for All Students

Event: Annual Meeting: "Liberal Education and the New Academy:
Raising Expectations, Keeping Promises"
Sponsor: Association of American Colleges and Universities
Date: January 26-29, 2005
Location: Hyatt Regency Embarcadero, San Francisco

Washington, DC--January 7, 2005--At a celebration of its 90th anniversary, the Association of American Colleges and Universities (AAC&U) will launch Liberal Education and America's Promise: Excellence for Everyone as a Nation Goes to College, a national advocacy and campus action initiative. Conceived as a decade-long campaign, the initiative is designed to champion the value of a contemporary liberal education--for individual students and for a nation dependent on economic creativity and democratic vitality. The campaign will expand public and student understanding of what really matters in college--the kinds of learning that will truly empower individuals to succeed and make a difference in the 21st century. More than 1,500 college leaders are expected to attend the meeting.

AAC&U's new advocacy campaign will initially focus on the key outcomes of a college education that are essential for success in today's world. It will draw attention to an emerging consensus among business, civic, educational, and some public policy leaders about the kinds of learning that Americans need to thrive in a knowledge-intensive economy and a globally engaged democracy. This consensus underlines the value of a liberal education for all college students, regardless of their background or choice of field. Preliminary public opinion research to be presented at the meeting suggests, however, that students and their parents remain largely unaware of this consensus or how colleges are responding to it.

The meeting, "Liberal Education and the New Academy: Raising Expectations, Keeping Promises," will provide details about the campaign and include hundreds of sessions highlighting the ways in which liberal education is being reinvented for a new age. The meeting will also feature a pre-conference symposium on January 26, 2005, "Liberal Education, Creativity, and the Entrepreneurial Spirit," and a presentation of the Frederic W. Ness Book Award for Reading Lolita in Tehran, the acclaimed book by Azar Nafisi.

Featured speakers at the meeting include:

  • Lee Shulman, president of the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching
  • Lani Guinier, Bennett Boskey professor of law at Harvard Law School
  • Julie Ruben, professor of education at the Harvard Graduate School of Education
  • Kavita N. Ramdas, president and chief executive officer of the Global Fund for Women
  • John Merrow, host and executive producer of "The Merrow Report," which airs on both PBS and NPR

Other highlights of the meeting include a special set of sessions sponsored by AAC&U's Office of Diversity, Equity, and Global Initiatives in collaboration with the Association of University Leaders for a Sustainable Future, and feature sessions on such topics as: Students and Politics: What Works?; Higher Learning for Citizenship; Assessing the "Value-Added" of Liberal Education; and Ivy and Industry: Business and the Making of the American University.

For additional information and a schedule of events, see Contact Debra Humphreys at to receive press credentials.

The AAC&U 90th Anniversary Annual Meeting has been sponsored in part by a generous grant from The James Irvine Foundation.

AAC&U is the leading national association concerned with the quality, vitality, and public standing of undergraduate liberal education. Its members are committed to extending the advantages of a liberal education to all students, regardless of academic specialization or intended career. Since its founding in 1915, AAC&U's membership has grown to 1,000 accredited public and private colleges and universities of every type and size.

AAC&U functions as a catalyst and facilitator, forging links among presidents, administrators, and faculty members who are engaged in institutional and curricular planning. Its mission is to reinforce the collective commitment to liberal education at both the national and local levels and to help individual institutions keep the quality of student learning at the core of their work as they evolve to meet new economic and social challenges.

Information about AAC&U membership, programs, and publications can be found at