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

State Farm Insurance Executive Vice President Deborah Traskell Named as New Cochair of Leadership Council Guiding AAC&U National Initiative

Six New Council Members from Business, Law, Higher Education, and Community Activism Will Contribute to Next Phase of Liberal Education and America's Promise Initiative

Washington, DC—December 14, 2009—The Association of American Colleges and Universities announced today a new cochair and six new members of the National Leadership Council guiding its initiative Liberal Education and America’s Promise (LEAP): Excellence for Everyone as a Nation Goes To College.  As the initiative reaches its fifth year of activities, these new leaders from a wide array of fields will help guide the initiative’s next phase of work.  They will join the other members of the council at a meeting in Washington, DC, in March, 2010.

Deborah Traskell, executive vice president at State Farm Insurance, now serves as cochair of the LEAP National Leadership Council along with Ronald Crutcher, president of Wheaton College. Crutcher has served as cochair of the NLC from the group’s inception in 2006. Traskell is taking on this responsibility from Peggy O’Brien, chief of the Office of Family and Public Engagement for the District of Columbia Public Schools.

“I am very pleased that Deborah Traskell is taking on this new leadership role in LEAP,” said Carol Geary Schneider, president of AAC&U.  “Traskell already has been an active member of the NLC providing AAC&U with expert advice on the changing nature of the workplace and new demands being placed on recent college graduates.  State Farm Insurance Companies have also provided significant support to the LEAP initiative, especially our efforts to develop more effective ways to assess students’ achievement of important learning outcomes.”

The other new members of the NLC include: Scott A. Brown, vice president of Worldwide Sales Enablement at Cisco; Diana Chapman Walsh, president emerita of Wellesley College; Eric Liu, cofounder of the True Patriot Network; Mark Bradley, attorney with Ruder Ware, LLSC in Wausau, WI, and a regent and former president of the Board of Regents  for the University of Wisconsin System; Lois Quam, Founder, Tysvar, LLC; and Anthony Carnevale, research professor and director of the Center on Education and the Workforce at Georgetown University.

“As the LEAP initiative moves into this new phase of work, we are very pleased to welcome new NLC members who will help bring fresh perspectives from an array of fields,” said Crutcher.  “I am also particularly pleased to be cochairing the council with Deborah Traskell, whose insights into the challenges faced in today’s increasingly competitive global economy and commitment to making excellence in higher education inclusive will be invaluable as we collectively chart a new course for higher education in these difficult times.”

The National Leadership Council was originally formed in 2006.  It is comprised of educational, business, community, and policy leaders who exercise strong leadership for liberal education in their own spheres of influence and advocate for an empowering, inclusive, and public-spirited liberal education for all students.  The NLC has issued several reports, including the groundbreaking national report, College Learning for the New Global Century in 2007 and High-Impact Educational Practices in 2008.

The LEAP National Leadership Council has provided guidance for the following areas of work:

-defining a set of essential learning outcomes for all college students, regardless of chosen school or field of study;

-identifying a set of high-impact educational practices that research shows lead to these outcomes and result in higher levels of student success;

-developing meaningful ways to assess students’ progress toward achievement of the outcomes;

-crafting effective messages and ways to communicate with students, their parents, and the general public about what really matters in college;

-advancing campus action and state system improvements in 230 college campuses in the LEAP Campus Action Network and in five official LEAP states, including Wisconsin, Virginia, Oregon, California, and Utah.

About LEAP

Liberal Education and America’s Promise (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.   

For more information about LEAP and a full listing of all members of the National Leadership Council, see

About AAC&U

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 1,200 member institutions—including 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