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Statements and Letters

Statement of Remembrance for Charles Muscatine

March 23, 2010

AAC&U notes with sadness the passing of Charles Muscatine, former English professor at the University of California at Berkeley and member of the panel that authored AAC&U’s influential report, Integrity in the College Curriculum, published in 1985.  Muscatine, a specialist in the medieval poetry of Geoffrey Chaucer, was known for his commitment to academic freedom and student-centered higher education institutions.  Muscatine was one of 31 faculty members at the University of California who refused to sign a McCarthy-era loyalty oath.  For this act of commitment to academic freedom and freedom of speech, he was initially fired.  After working for several years at Wesleyan University, he was reinstated at Berkeley in 1953 where he continued to be known for his efforts to work with students involved in the Free Speech movement.  As part of that work, Muscatine headed a faculty committee that issued a report in 1966 with recommendations for how to make the university a more personal and less alienating place for students.  What became known as the “Muscatine Report” turned out to be a blueprint for higher education reform, focusing on such issues as the importance of teaching, the development of first-year seminars, and the gathering of student input on the curriculum. This earlier work contributed to his involvement in AAC&U and its project that resulted in the publication of Integrity in the College Curriculum several decades later. Within the AAC&U community, Integrity framed a generation of needed work on the purposes of college learning across the entire curriculum, including professional programs as well as arts and sciences departments.  It also signaled the need for new ways to assess student learning, a new emphasis on learning in Ph.D. preparation of new faculty, and the need for a far-reaching reconsideration of the purposes of the college major.  AAC&U is in Muscatine’s debt for his vision and leadership on these issues that remain so central to quality in undergraduate education.  As fellow AAC&U colleague, Jerry Gaff, put it, “Charles was a great academic citizen who championed the right causes to improve the education of students even when it was not popular.  He was a personification of the kind of professor who helped define the nation’s reform agenda over many years.  I will miss him, his wisdom, his commitments, and his kindness.” AAC&U extends its condolences to his family and all who worked with him through AAC&U, at the University of California, and throughout the higher education community. He is survived by two children, Jeffrey Muscatine of Mountain View, California, and Lissa Muscatine of Bethesda, Maryland, and six grandchildren.  His wife of 60 years, Doris Corn Muscatine, died in 2006.