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Press Room

Press Release

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

Improving Statewide General Education Outcomes and Underserved Student Success Is Goal of New AAC&U Initiative

Carnegie Corporation of New York Provides Grant to Support Liberal Education and America’s Promise Initiative

Washington, DC -- June 30, 2008 -- The Association of American Colleges and Universities announced today the receipt of a $560,000 grant to develop a multistate partnership designed to strengthen the quality of undergraduate student learning. Working with public higher education systems in California, Oregon, and Wisconsin, Give Students a Compass will support collaboration to re-map educational aims, practices, and assessment strategies for general education. The project is part of AAC&U’s signature initiative, Liberal Education and America’s Promise (LEAP).  Give Students a Compass has also received major support from the State Farm Companies Foundation.

“All students -- including those in both two-year and four-year institutions and those traditionally less well-served by higher education -- deserve the benefits of a purposeful and engaged liberal education,” said AAC&U President Carol Geary Schneider.  “We are very pleased that this new support from the Carnegie Corporation will enable us to bring together educational leaders in three large public state systems of higher education to work to ensure that their students achieve the levels of learning they need for success.”

Give Students a Compass will support public higher education reform efforts to strengthen the quality of student learning in California, Oregon, and Wisconsin.  In all three states, community college and BA degree-granting institutions, school and college leaders, and business partners will be actively involved in the project.  The initiative will be directed by Susan Albertine, who begins her tenure as the new Senior Director for LEAP State Initiatives in AAC&U’s Office of Quality, Curriculum, and Assessment on July 1.  The initiative will also conduct a study that explores educational practices that help underserved students achieve essential learning outcomes.  This study will be directed by Alma Clayton-Pedersen, Vice President for Education and Institutional Renewal at AAC&U.

Through the two-year initiative, faculty and academic administrators will work together on participating campuses and across systems to:

  • establish twenty-first-century aims and outcomes for their general education programs in order to prepare their 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 demonstrated 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 planning tools to transfer students so that they can achieve educational goals even as they attend multiple institutions.

The initiative’s title -- Give Students a Compass -- is drawn from a set of Principles of Excellence first described in AAC&U’s influential 2007 report, College Learning for the New Global Century.  It speaks to a central goal of AAC&U’s LEAP initiative -- to more effectively educate the large number of first generation college students who look to higher education for expanded opportunity but who often arrive on campus under-prepared and/or with little understanding of what they most need from a college education.

Liberal Education and America’s Promise: Excellence for Everyone as a Nation Goes to College 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 on campus practices that foster essential learning outcomes for all students, whatever their chosen field of study. Launched in 2005, on the occasion of AAC&U’s 90th anniversary, LEAP is AAC&U’s primary vehicle for advancing and communicating the importance of undergraduate liberal education for all students. 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 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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