Call for Proposals: 2020 Annual Meeting

Shaping the Future of Higher Education:  An Invitation to Lead


Thank you for your interest in AAC&U's 2020 Annual Meeting. The Call for Proposals is now closed, and individuals who submitted a proposal will be notified of its status by the end of September. 

The Call for Proposals for the ePortfolio Forum on Saturday, January 25, will remain open through July 31.  Information on submitting a proposal for the Forum is here.

If we can provide any additional information, please contact us at

Description of the Meeting
Conference Tracks
ePortfolio Forum
Session Formats
Writing a Strong Proposal
Information to Include
How to Submit a Proposal
Early Career Participants
Dates to Remember
If You Have Questions

AAC&U invites proposals of innovative, interactive, and substantive sessions that will raise provocative questions, engage participants with evidence of “what works,” and create and encourage dialogue—before, during, and after the conference itself.

The deadline for submission of proposals was Monday, July 22.


About the Meeting

The 2020 Annual Meeting will showcase equitable, innovative, and cost-effective models for providing today’s students with a strong, relevant, and inclusive liberal education. Meeting participants are invited to share their work on the development and implementation of the high-impact educational practices, inclusive pedagogies, authentic forms of assessment, and pathways to student success that are transforming student learning at two- and four-year institutions, across disciplines and majors, and across institutional types—and shaping the future of higher education.



We welcome proposals in the following topic areas:

Student Learning and Student Success

  • Can the high-impact practices be implemented in ways that both have a positive impact student success and are cost-effective?
  • Can the high-impact practices be implemented in equitable ways that ensure participation by diverse groups of students across majors and disciplines?
  • How can institutions become student-ready, create a sense of belonging, and ensure a welcoming environment for diverse students?
  • What types of models and strategies result in greater student engagement, participation, and achievement in STEM fields? 
  • What types of innovative approaches to advising contribute to greater student success and enhanced well-being across the educational experience?
  • How do equity-minded goals transform campus climates and practices?


Assessment and General Education

  • How can the VALUE rubrics be used for institutional assessment? How can modifications to the rubrics enhance assessment at an institution?
  • How can assessment provide insight on equity gaps for student success? And once gaps have been identified, what strategies can be used to improve student achievement?
  • How can institutions assess the effects of the high-impact practices on student learning in both general education and the majors?
  • What new models of assessment can institutions use to capture student learning outcomes?
  • How can general education be connected to real-world experiences that prepare students for the majors and their future careers?
  • Are there cost-efficient ways for institutions to assessed student learning?
  • How can evidence be used to assess high-impact and integrative learning?


Preparing Students for Life, Work, and Citizenship Locally and Globally

  • How can institutions help students make connections between their future careers and professions and their global and civic learning?
  • How can institutions prepare students to engage in civil dialogue with community members, faculty, staff, and other students with backgrounds that are different from their own? What types of structured and unstructured experiences can be offered?
  • How can global and civic experiences be integrated into the curriculum for all students—across disciplines and from general education to the majors?
  • How can student experiences be connected to the public good and to the development of social and personal responsibility?
  • How can community partners be engaged in the development of community-based experiences for students? How can institutions ensure that these experiences are ethical and meaningful for the community partners and the campus participants?
  • How can global and civic experiences be connected to institutional or program-level learning outcomes? 
  • How can civic education prepare students for community activism and civic action?
  • How can opportunities for global and civic learning be offered equitably across the institution?
  • How can the skills that employers value be embedded in curricular and cocurricular experiences for students? How can students be prepared to communicate about these experiences when they interact with employers and community partners?
  • How can students be prepared to engage in vigorous debates and discussions about diverse ideas within the context of freedom of expression in and outside of class?


 Engaging Current and Future Faculty for Teaching and Leadership Excellence

  • How can all faculty—tenured, non-tenured, part-time, full-time, contingent, lecture, clinical, etc.—be engaged in the development and implementation of strategies to improve student learning?
  • How can faculty be prepared to teach and mentor today’s diverse students? What skills and strategies should they employ, and how can institutions prepare them?
  • How can institutions reward teaching to improve student learning?
  • How can young faculty be prepared for leadership positions in the academy?
  • What pathways can institutions offer to provide faculty with guidance on the transition to leadership at the departmental, dean, and institutional levels?
  • What kinds of innovative programing for leadership in teaching, research, service, and administration can be offered for faculty?
  • How can future faculty be prepared for changing faculty roles?
  • How can faulty with diverse backgrounds (first-generation and low-income faculty, faculty from diverse institutional types, etc.) be prepared for leadership positions?


Institutional Change

  • Are there innovative models of institutional change that can result in student success, faculty and staff satisfaction, and greater connectivity among institutions, communities, and employers?
  • How can institutions respond to demands from students, alumni, and policymakers to make changes that improve the quality of learning and the long-term success of graduates?
  • How can intuitions shift curricula and classroom spaces to prepare students for civic participation and jobs of the future that have not yet been created?
  • What strategies and practices can guide institutions through necessary change for the twenty-first-century challenges facing colleges and universities and the changing workforce?
  • How can institutions create opportunities for students to gain access to, and persist in, programs and majors that have historically served as gatekeepers? Are there sample strategies and models to ensure more inclusive participation in these disciplines and majors across the institution?
  • How can equity-mindedness guide institutional change?


Higher Education Policy and Communication

  • How do policies at the state and/or federal levels hinder or help expand access to high-impact practices and more engaged learning for students?
  • How could current “hot topics” in public policy, such as free college, affect diverse institutional types?
  • How can institutions communicate to diverse stakeholders the value and power of innovative practices that are also cost-efficient?
  • How can institutions and associations respond to changes in accreditation proposed by the federal government?
  • How can institutions communicate the value of liberal education to students, parents, community members, employers, and policymakers?



Please note the following:

  • The AAC&U audience continues to appreciate—and request—shorter sessions.  We strongly encourage presentations that are crisp, current, and creative.
  • The AAC&U audience has also requested more sessions focused on discussion and participation, so we strongly encourage you to consider submitting a Seminar or Discussion Session. 
  • The Annual Meeting will include a series of Roundtable Discussions on Saturday morning. We particularly welcome Roundtable proposals that reflect models of innovative work.
  • All sessions will be 30, 60, or 75 minutes in length.  (HEDs Up sessions will include five 10-minute presentations within a 75-minute session.)  With the exception of the 10-minute presentation, all sessions must include opportunities for dialogue with participants.  Please allow time for participants to share their expertise and experiences and incorporate time for activities such as dialogue, reflection, and sharing.


AAC&U is seeking proposals on ePortfolios for the Annual Meeting proper (for presentation on Thursday, January 23, or Friday, January 24) and for the all-day Forum on Digital Learning and ePortfolios (for presentation on Saturday, January 25).  You will be able to indicate on the online form if you are submitting your proposal for the Annual Meeting proper or for the ePortfolio Forum.

  • Proposals for the Annual Meeting proper were due on July 22.
  • Proposals for the Saturday ePortfolio Forum are due on July 31.



The proposal process is very competitive, and we offer the following suggestions:

  • All proposals should reflect current work, recent findings, and/ or new perspectives.
  • Priority will be given to proposals that link the work of multiple institutions and reflect diverse perspectives, innovations, disciplines, and programmatic areas.  Joint submissions from across campuses, consortia, and campus-community partners are encouraged, and we particularly welcome student perspectives.
  • The AAC&U audience particularly appreciates sessions that illustrate the perspectives of different organizational roles (e.g., faculty members, department chairs, deans, provosts).
  • AAC&U is committed to presenting an annual meeting at which sessions and participants reflect the pluralism of our campus communities.  Please include presenters who bring diverse perspectives and life experiences to the topic or issue your proposal addresses.
  • Do not read your paper at the Annual Meeting. This is the top complaint from audience members each year.  Proposals that refer to the presentation as “this paper” will not be considered.  Speakers that read papers will not be accepted for future presentations.
  • We encourage proposals that address the challenges and obstacles encountered—not just the successes.  As noted in a meeting evaluation: “I appreciated hearing about how well a new program was working, but I found it more valuable to hear about some of the challenges that were eventually overcome.”
  • Sessions should engage participants in thinking about how they might translate and adapt this research or project/model/innovation to their own institutions or professional settings.   “Show and tell” submissions that have little or no applicability to other institutions will not be considered.  
  • We ask that you present work that has proven effective and is well beyond the planning stages.
  • Please keep in mind the time reserved for dialogue when determining how many speakers you include with your proposal.


Proposals that simply describe the work of one particular program or project, and are not applicable or of interest to a broad audience, are likely to be scheduled as 30-minute sessions or roundtable discussions, rather than as stand-alone sessions.

Proposals that promote products or services available for purchase will not be considered through the regular proposal process, but will be referred to AAC&U’s Sponsorship Program.  More information about sponsorships for the Annual Meeting is available by writing to  



Seminar Session
Seminar Sessions are small group discussions—limited to 25 participants—on topics actively discussed and debated within higher education today.  The Seminar Leader(s) will facilitate discussion and provide opening statements and/or provocative questions to open the discussion.  If the emphasis will be on presenting your own work, but with audience discussion, please see "Discussion Session" below.

“HEDs UP” – Higher Ed Session
HEDs UP is a format in the model of “TED Talks.”  HEDs Up presentations are limited to 10 minutes.  The presentation should focus on an innovative project or program, compelling research, or “lessons learned.”   HEDs Up presentations should be provocative, challenging, and, above all, interesting.   (Bonus points for being entertaining, as well.)  

One moderated 75-minute session will consist of five presentations to ensure that the session is lively and moves quickly to the next speaker.   It is especially important in this format that no papers be read.

Digital Learning and Emerging Technologies
Digital learning presentations will focus on curricular models or innovative programs that use new technologies to enhance teaching and learning.

Discussion Session
The primary focus of these sessions is discussion with or among audience members. The session room will be set with roundtables (if space allows).

Research Session
Research sessions present findings, works in progress, or new methodologies pertaining to the meeting themes.

Roundtable Discussions
Roundtable discussions—a format for smaller, individual discussions—will provide opportunities for participants to share strategies and successful examples of academic and institutional leadership at all levels.  These are informal discussions, one discussion topic per roundtable, and participants will be welcome to rotate among several roundtable discussions or focus on one. 

ePortfolio Session
EPortfolio sessions should include a demonstration and/or links to student or institutional work, if possible.  We encourage proposals on ePortfolios for inclusion in the Annual Meeting (on Thursday and Friday) and/or for the ePortfolio Forum on Saturday, January 25.

Panel Presentation
This is a traditional format with presentation(s) followed by discussion among the speakers and with the audience.



AAC&U encourages sessions that include early career participants, providing them the opportunity to engage and share with the AAC&U membership.  We welcome innovative research, fresh perspectives, and creative, compelling ideas and approaches in any of the existing conference tracks. Speakers who are early career participants can apply for funding from AAC&U to cover conference registration. AAC&U considers early career participants to be:

Graduate students who are within one year of completion of their graduate degree

Recent graduates of a Masters or PhD program who are no more than five years beyond degree completion—including post-doctoral researchers/scholars—who are working inside or outside the academy



Annual Meeting participants will have Internet access available at all sessions of the Annual Meeting.  We encourage speakers to take advantage of this opportunity and provide a more interactive experience for the AAC&U audience.

We encourage you to post your PowerPoints and handouts prior to the Annual Meeting so participants can access this information before, during, and after your presentation.

If you have links to such materials at this time, please provide the URL address with your proposal. 



Proposal Abstract (400 words)
The abstract should describe the content and significance of the session, seminar, or roundtable, as well as how it relates to the theme of the meeting.  Participants will be most interested in new information, innovative programs, and proven results. 

Brief Description (150 words)
This description will be used for the Final Program.  Please remember that—should your proposal be accepted—a participant’s decision to attend your session will be based in large part on this description.  We encourage you to make it as accurate, and compelling, as possible.

Expected Learning Outcomes (50-75 words)

Please describe—or list—the outcomes with which you hope the audience members will leave the session—i.e., the “takeaways.”



Electronic Submission:
Please submit your proposal electronically as directed on the form. If you need assistance, please contact at

Please submit your proposal on or before Monday, July 22, 2019.

You should receive an automatic message indicating receipt of your proposal when it is submitted. If you do not receive this message, please send an email to

Final Confirmation re: Receipt of Proposal:
AAC&U will send an email on or before August 9 to each Contact Person as a final confirmation of receipt of your proposal. Please make a note of this. If you do not receive this email, it is possible that your proposal was lost in the data transfer.

You will be notified via email by September 27, 2019, regarding the status of your proposal.

Registration Fees:
All presenters at the Annual Meeting are responsible for the appropriate registration fees. Please be sure all presenters submitted in your proposal have this information. Registration materials will be available online beginning September 16, 2019.

Final Reminders:

  • Please complete all fields, including information pertaining to all additional speakers.
  • Please include links to supplemental materials, if available.

By submitting a proposal, you agree to:

  • Register and pay fees, if the proposal is accepted.
  • Inform your co-presenters about the proposal’s status and the need for all presenters to register and pay fees.


Dates to Remember:

July 22, 2019
Proposals due to AAC&U

September 16, 2019
Registration materials available online

September 27, 2019
Acceptance (or rejection) of proposals sent to all Contact Persons


If You Have Questions or Need Additional Information

Please do not hesitate to contact us at or to call AAC&U at 202-387-3760. We look forward to receiving your proposal.


Session proposals must be received by July 22, 2019