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Press Release

Contact: Debra Humphreys

AAC&U Chooses 17 Colleges and Universities to Lead Initiative on Educating Students for Personal and Social Responsibility

Core Commitments Leadership Consortium To Advance Ethics, Integrity, and Social Responsibility and Assess Institutional Progress With New Personal and Social Responsibility Institutional Inventory

January 18, 2007 – Washington, DC – The Association of American Colleges and Universities (AAC&U) announced today the 17 institutions chosen to participate in the Core Commitments Leadership Consortium.  These schools will lead the first phase of a national initiative, Core Commitments: Educating Students for Personal and Social Responsibility.  The initiative seeks to embed personal and social responsibility objectives pervasively across the institution as key educational outcomes for students and measure the impact of campus efforts to foster such learning.  

“The selected colleges and universities are already promising leaders in encouraging and incorporating personal and social responsibility into the undergraduate curriculum,” said AAC&U President Carol Geary Schneider.  “Too often there is a disconnect between student life on campus and students’ academic studies, isolating values, ethics, and civic responsibilities from what is learned in the classroom.  Core Commitments and the Leadership Consortium will strive to create an encompassing vision of how to integrate these vital principles into the core of the undergraduate experience for all students.”    

The 17 participating institutions were selected both on the basis of work already accomplished in the spirit of Core Commitments and on an articulated plan to deepen and extend that work on campus.  They are each working to implement in their own ways one of the key recommendations articulated in AAC&U’s recent report from its initiative, Liberal Education and America’s Promise.  In part, College Learning for the New Global Century, recommends that every college or university “foster civic, intercultural, and ethical learning” and “emphasize personal and social responsibility” for all students and in every field of study.

The 17 institutions chosen to participate in Core Commitments are: 

Babson College, MA
Bowling Green State University, OH
California State University-Northridge, CA
Concordia College-Moorhead, MN
Miami University, OH
Michigan State University, MI
Middlesex Community College, MA
Oakland Community College, MI
Rollins College, FL
Saint Mary's College of California, CA
St. Lawrence University, NY
United States Air Force Academy, CO
University of Alabama at Birmingham, AL
University of Central Florida, FL
University of the Pacific, CA
Wagner College, NY
Winthrop University, SC

Project Director Caryn McTighe Musil, Senior Vice President at AAC&U, explains that to focus the work that will happen on campuses, AAC&U has identified five key dimensions of personal and social responsibility that form the core of this initiative:

  1. Striving for excellence: developing a strong work ethic and consciously doing one’s very best in all aspects of college;
  2. Cultivating personal and academic integrity: recognizing and acting on a sense of honor ranging from honesty in relationships to principled engagement with a formal academic honors code;
  3. Contributing to a larger community: recognizing and acting on one’s responsibility to the educational community (classroom, campus life), the local community, and the wider society, both national and global;
  4. Taking seriously the perspectives of others: recognizing and acting on the obligation to inform one’s own judgment; engaging diverse and competing perspectives as a resource for learning, for citizenship, and for work;
  5. Developing competence in ethical and moral reasoning: developing ethical and moral reasoning in ways that incorporate the other four responsibilities; using such reasoning in learning and in life.

The 17 Consortium members will receive a $25,000 award and commit $25,000 in institutional matching funds over two years to significantly advance new models that provide students with purposeful and progressively challenging educational experiences leading to these outcomes.  They will also administer a new Personal and Social Responsibility Institutional Inventory to students, faculty, student affairs administrators, and academic administrators.  The results will be used to inform ongoing efforts. Future events planned for the initiative include institutes and workshops, campus dialogues, and symposiums. 

Core Commitments: Educating Students for Personal and Social Responsibility is supported by a generous grant from the John Templeton Foundation. 

The mission of the John Templeton Foundation is to serve as a philanthropic catalyst for discovery in areas engaging life’s biggest questions. These questions range from explorations into the laws of nature and the universe to questions on the nature of love, gratitude, forgiveness, and creativity. Also recognizing the importance of character and virtue toward building a free society, the Foundation supports a broad spectrum of programs, publications and studies that promote character education from childhood through young adulthood and beyond.

Our vision is derived from John Templeton’s commitment to rigorous scientific research and related scholarship. The Foundation’s motto “How little we know, how eager to learn” exemplifies our support for open-minded inquiry and our hope for advancing human progress through breakthrough discoveries.  Information about the John Templeton Foundation can be found at

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. Founded in 1915, AAC&U now comprises nearly 1,300 member institutions—including accredited public and private colleges, community colleges, research universities, and comprehensive 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 and inclusive excellence 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.