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Press Room

Press Release

Debra Humphreys
Vice President for Communications and Public Affairs
202-387-3760 ext. 422
Humphreys@aacu.org

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

April 10, 2007 – Washington, DC – The Association of American Colleges and Universities (AAC&U) announced today the selection of six additional institutions to participate as members of the Leadership Consortium in the 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 to document the impact of campus efforts to foster such learning.

“The response we received from our members to the Core Commitments initiative has been inspiring,” said AAC&U President Carol Geary Schneider. “The selected colleges and universities have already made a notable commitment to establish personal and social responsibility as essential, rather than elective goals for a contemporary liberal education. But now they want to do even more to create campus cultures of integrity, responsibility, and service beyond self.

“The work accomplished across these 23 colleges, community colleges, and universities will be an important resource for the entire higher education community,” said AAC&U Board Chair Christopher Dahl, president of the State University of New York at Geneseo.

The second cohort of institutions was selected from the initial applicant pool and chosen both on the basis of work already accomplished and on an articulated plan to deepen and extend that work.  In AAC&U’s recent report from its campaign, Liberal Education and America’s Promise, educating students for personal and social responsibility is identified as one of the four essential learning outcomes for a twenty-first century liberal education.  The report can be read online in full at www.aacu.org/leap.   

The six institutions chosen for the second cohort in the Leadership Consortium are:

  • Allegheny College, PA
  • Elizabethtown College, PA
  • Portland State University, OR
  • Sacred Heart University, CT
  • Saint Anselm College, NH
  • United States Military Academy, NY 

Project Director Caryn McTighe Musil, senior vice president at AAC&U, enumerated five key dimensions of personal and social responsibility that form the core of AAC&U’s Core Commitments 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.

As part of the initiative, all 23 campuses participating in the Core Commitments Leadership Consortium will administer AAC&U’s Personal and Social Responsibility Institutional Inventory in the fall of 2007 to students, faculty, student affairs administrators, and academic administrators.  The inventory is designed to identify where different groups on campus see opportunities to foster learning about personal and social responsibility and to serve as a catalyst for dialogues across the institution about ways to make such learning more pervasive.  Eventually the Leadership Consortium members will also be assessing whether students have acquired new capabilities in the five dimensions.  Future events planned for the initiative include institutes, workshops, and campus dialogues. Throughout the initiative, AAC&U will also organize a series of open symposiums where the higher education community at large can explore how to promote ethical responsibilities to self and others. 

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 www.templeton.org.


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.

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