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Contact: Debra Humphreys, VP for Communications and Public Affairs
202-387-3760 (ext. 422)

Nine Universities in California, Wisconsin, and Oregon to Pilot New Ways to "Give Students a Compass" for College Learning

Educational Leaders at Pilot Sites Will Develop and Implement New Designs for General Education to Prepare Students for 21st Century Challenges - Engaging Three Large State Systems of Higher Education

Washington, DC—December 19, 2008—The Association of American Colleges and Universities announced today that nine institutions in public state systems of higher education in California, Wisconsin, and Oregon will model new approaches to general education designed to increase achievement of learning outcomes essential to prepare students for 21st century global, civic, and economic challenges. These pilot projects are part of AAC&U’s Give Students a Compass project.  This project works with institutions in three large state systems of higher education and is supported with grants from Carnegie Corporation of New York and State Farm Companies Foundation.  A new grant from the Lumina Foundation for Education supports work within the project targeted toward underserved students’ success, part of AAC&U’s broader initiative to “make excellence inclusive.”

The following institutions will receive funding of approximately $25,000 per campus to serve as pilot sites over 3 years of project work:

California State University System

California State University, Chico
Sacramento State University
San José State University

Oregon University System

            Eastern Oregon University
            Portland State University
            Southern Oregon University

University of Wisconsin System

            University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire
            University of Wisconsin-Oshkosh
            University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee

Pilot activities will include:

  • Improving general education for transfer students in partnership with 2-year colleges
  • Developing high-impact experiential learning for all students
  • Designing electronic portfolios to document student achievement wherever they attend college
  • Creating electronic methods of monitoring students’ participation in high-impact educational practices

 “In a time of economic constraint, we applaud the work of three large public university systems as they strengthen the quality of learning along pathways to degree attainment,” said AAC&U Senior Director Susan Albertine.  “The future workforce and the future of democratic institutions demand our best energy and creativity to improve learning outcomes even in times of fiscal challenge.  The institutions in this project are doing just that and the citizens of their states will benefit greatly from their efforts.”

Through the 3-year Give Students a Compass initiative, faculty and academic administrators throughout the Wisconsin, Oregon, and Cal State systems will work to:

  • establish 21st-century aims and outcomes for their general education programs in order to prepare students successfully for the global, civic, and economic challenges that all Americans now face, emphasizing citizenship and skills rewarded in the global economy;
  • adopt designs for general education and assessment that foster high levels of integrative learning and demonstrate accomplishments of essential outcomes;
  • gather and use evidence about practices that support high levels of achievement for students from traditionally underserved groups;
  • provide educational roadmaps and planning tools to transfer students so that they can achieve educational goals even as they attend multiple institutions.

Give Students a Compass is part of AAC&U’s larger initiative, Liberal Education and America’s Promise: Excellence for Everyone as a Nation Goes to College (LEAP).  LEAP is an initiative that champions the value of a liberal education—for individual students and for a nation dependent on economic creativity and democratic vitality. The initiative focuses campus practice on fostering essential learning outcomes for all students, whatever their chosen field of study. LEAP seeks to engage the public with core questions about what really matters in college, to give students a compass to guide their learning, and to make a set of essential learning outcomes the preferred framework for educational excellence, assessment of learning, and new alignments between school and college.

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 more than 1,150 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.