Liberal Education

From the Editor

This issue of Liberal Education features highlights of the 2016 annual meeting—a meeting that was, um, somewhat unusual.

On the eve of the meeting, AAC&U released the second of three reports presenting results from a national survey of chief academic officers; the first report had been released in November, and the third was subsequently released in February. Here, Debra Humphreys provides a synthesis of the three reports, situating the survey findings within a broader discussion of the ongoing reform of undergraduate education.

Then, on the evening of Wednesday, January 20, the annual meeting formally began: Cathy Davidson was presented with the New American Colleges and Universities’ Ernest L. Boyer Award and, thereafter, addressed the opening night forum. Her address appears in this issue as the lead article. After the forum, those members of the AAC&U community who had come for the daylong pre-meeting symposium, “The LEAP Challenge and the Equity Imperative,” along with others who had by then arrived for the annual meeting itself, gathered for a welcoming reception, an “AAC&U Social Hour.” Early the next morning, Lynn Gangone addressed the Networking Breakfast for Women Faculty and Administrators. Her address, too, is published here.

So far, so good.

By the time the meeting’s opening plenary session got underway on Thursday, however, Washington, DC, was under a “blizzard watch,” with the National Weather Service predicting high winds and at least two feet of snow. By the end of the next day, “Snowzilla” (the Washington Post’s name for the blizzard) had shut down the city’s public transit system as well as all three airports.

Yet, for those intrepid meeting-goers who had travelled to Washington, despite the forecast, and who opted to remain, even after it became clear that the storm would effectively strand them at the hotel, the annual meeting went on. Indeed, the program proved remarkably protean, as, notwithstanding the appeal of a truly captive audience, not all presenters were able to make it to Washington or, even if they did, to stay for their sessions. Included among these was the closing plenary speaker, Ed Ayers, who, by the time of the closing plenary, was stranded in Richmond by the storm. His intended address is published here.

The 2017 annual meeting will be held in San Francisco.

In addition to representing an unusual annual meeting, this issue of Liberal Education marks the transition in presidential leadership at AAC&U. In her first President’s Message, Lynn Pasquerella reflects on the challenges of advancing liberal education and inclusive excellence at a time of diminishing public trust in higher education. And we have included as a special section a small Festschrift honoring Carol Geary Schneider, now president emerita of AAC&U.

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