AAC&U Board of Directors Statement on the Lumina Foundation's Proposed Degree Profile

Thursday, February 17, 2011

The Association of American Colleges and Universities (AAC&U) Board of Directors welcomes with enthusiasm the opportunity presented by the recent release of the Lumina Foundation for Education's proposed Degree Qualifications Profile (DP). We are particularly encouraged by Lumina's pledge to partner with the higher education community in funding and learning from experimental efforts to both strengthen and demonstrate students' achievement of key learning outcomes or competencies, across all the many pathways today's students follow to and through college.

For more than a decade—across its signature Greater Expectations and Liberal Education and America's Promise (LEAP) initiatives—AAC&U has worked with its member institutions and many partners outside higher education to define and advance the kinds of learning college graduates need to contribute and thrive in a turbulent global century. Through all these far-reaching grassroots efforts, we have underscored the importance of placing liberal learning outcomes at the center of our shared educational focus and making such outcomes a catalyst for intentional change.

Determined as an association to "Aim High—and Make Excellence Inclusive," AAC&U wants to ensure that many more students complete college, and that all college students achieve the best possible preparation for life, work, civic engagement, and global challenges. Because of these longstanding commitments, we welcome the Lumina Foundation's commitment to take these efforts to an even deeper level of campus engagement, educational change, and student accomplishment. In particular:

  • The AAC&U board of directors is pleased that the President of AAC&U helped to develop the current draft of the DP, bringing with her the principles and philosophies espoused by our member campuses, including their commitment to liberal education outcomes as the most powerful framework for excellence in undergraduate education in the 21st century.
  • We are further heartened by Lumina's inclusion of other higher education thought leaders in the discussion of the DP and by its intention to expand campus-based work to align both the higher education curriculum and the co-curriculum with more clearly articulated expected learning outcomes.
  • We support the participation of a broad and substantive mix of higher education leaders and faculty members in ongoing efforts to use the Lumina DP as they invent new approaches to assessing student learning in ways that show transparently what students can do with their learning and how well they are progressing toward expected levels of competence.

Representing our colleagues in more than 1,200 AAC&U member institutions across the country, we see the presentation of the draft DP as a valuable opportunity to meet boldly the challenge of significantly increasing college attainment—completion with essential learning outcomes—for all students. We want to learn from the resulting experimentation and we will carefully review and report the results in partnership with our member institutions and the wider educational community.

We also look forward to the possibilities the Lumina Degree Profile presents to increase public understanding of what quality really means in higher education. As we said in an earlier board statement, The Quality Imperative, "quality must become the centerpiece of this nation's intended investments in postsecondary attainment." Lumina's focus on just these issues is both welcome and needed.