Frederic W. Ness Book Award


Established in 1979 to honor AAC&U’s ninth president, the annual Frederic W. Ness Book Award recognizes outstanding contributions to the understanding and improvement of liberal education. A mark of distinction for both authors and publishers, the award, which includes an honorarium of $2,000, is presented at AAC&U's annual meeting.

To be eligible for the 2020 award, a book must have been published between April 1, 2018, and March 31, 2019, and meet the following criteria:

  • The principal theme of the book contributes to the analysis or advancement of liberal education in any setting.
  • The book focuses on liberal education as an evolving tradition, on the role and value of liberal education in a particular context, or on an issue or topic in secondary or postsecondary education that is discussed substantially in relation to liberal education.
  • A book by two or more authors is eligible, as are anthologies of essays, provided that (1) the primary focus of the work meets the overall criteria for the award and (2) all or most of the individual essays themselves contribute to a deepened or coherent understanding of liberal education.
  • Online publications are eligible provided that (1) the primary focus of the work meets the overall criteria for the award and (2) appropriate verification is secured that the work will not be published in a printed format.
  • Histories of colleges and universities are generally ineligible, but may qualify if they are more than an institutional history and contribute specifically to an understanding of the evolving definition or value of liberal education.
  • Handbooks, reference books, textbooks, and works whose chief purpose is to present the results of empirical research, institutional studies, or instructional experiments are ineligible.

Nominations of books that meet these criteria may be made by letter to the Frederic W. Ness Book Award Committee, 1818 R Street NW, Washington, DC 20009 or by e-mail to the AAC&U President's Office ( Nominations for the 2020 award must be received no later than June 21, 2019. The committee reserves the right to make no award in a given year.

More Information on the Ness Book Award: