Call for Proposals: 2017 Annual Meeting


The deadline for submitting a proposal for presentation at AAC&U's 2017 Annual Meeting has passed.  Those who submitted a proposal will receive a final confirmation of its receipt on or before August 8.  Final notifications regarding the proposal's status will be emailed to the Contact Person by the end of September.

If you would like to submit a proposal for the ePortfolio Forumheld all-day on Saturday, January 28please visit this page. The deadline for ePortfolio Forum submissions is Friday, August 12.

Thank you for your interest in AAC&U's Annual Meeting, and we hope to see you in San Francisco.


Description of the Meeting
Conference Tracks
ePortfolio Forum
Session Formats
Interactive Sessions
Writing a Strong Proposal
Information to Include
How to Submit a Proposal
Final Reminders
Dates to Remember
Online Proposal Form for ePortfolio Forum Only
If You Have Questions

NOTE:  The abstract for the proposal should be approximately 400 words.

AAC&U invites proposals of innovative, interactive, 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.

About the Annual Meeting
The AAC&U 2017 Annual Meeting will respond to the urgent need—expressed by educators from campuses across the country—for more effective approaches to restoring public trust in higher education and improving public understanding of how liberal education and inclusive excellence are valuable “public” and “private” goods.  Rebuilding the public’s trust in higher and liberal education requires educators and leaders from across sectors to paint a more compelling and vivid picture of how colleges and universities are improving student learning and reinventing liberal education to serve today’s students and to solve today’s challenges.  Sessions and speakers will move beyond familiar dichotomous arguments that describe the purpose of higher education as either preparation for work or broad learning for life and citizenship.  Rather than positioning liberal education as a contested alternative to pure vocationalism, the meeting will reflect how AAC&U member institutions are offering students a liberal education that is engaged with the world—and preparing them for their futures as workers, citizens, and community members.

Front and center will be how today’s liberal education must serve the cause of equity in American society—educating and graduating students from all backgrounds equipped to lead and contribute to our diverse democracy.

The 2016 presidential race has underscored how fractured American society remains—and how important American higher education is in building students’ capacity for democratic discourse and action.  Only through a liberal education enacted with a firm commitment to inclusive excellence will students gain the broad knowledge and transferable skills they need to connect knowledge with responsible problem solving and engagement with urgent challenges at home and abroad.  Particularly highlighted will be forms of liberal education that equip students for full participation in a diverse democracy through their active engagement with perspectives that differ from their own.

The Annual Meeting will provide an opportunity for the entire AAC&U community to come together, commit to enacting our principle of inclusive excellence, and leave with clear plans of action.  Sessions will focus on moving from intention to public commitment to practice—putting equity-minded policies into effect and shaping transformative learning experiences for students across majors and disciplines.  The meeting will demonstrate how liberal education and inclusive excellence can be embraced by everyone on campus—administrators, faculty, staff, and students—and become the linchpins for effective institutional change and for compelling public narratives.


We welcome compelling session proposals in the following key topic areas:

Innovative Practices for Student Learning and Student Success

  • How are campuses developing and implementing guided pathways to support student success from the first to the final year and for transfer students?  What proof do we have that these programs are working?
  • What teaching practices are resulting in student success and greater student engagement?
  • What evidence-based pedagogies demonstrate success for New Majority students?
  • What practices are helping us understand student learning in ways that improve the educational experience of students?
  • How are we preparing students and bringing practices to scale that increase persistence and achievement in STEM fields?
  • How do integrative learning experiences empower students?
  • How does transparency in instruction lead to greater student learning?
  • How are faculty development programs preparing faculty for integrative learning?

Equity-Minded Policies and Practices

  • How are institutions responding in productive ways to student activism in response to campus and societal themes of racial and social justice, where students are claiming the rhetoric doesn’t match their lived experiences?
  • What are successful models for creating and monitoring equity-minded institutional goals? How are resources allocated to support these goals? 
  • How are high-impact practices being incorporated into the curriculum and cocurriculum for all students, not just some?
  • How are culturally competent practices that lead to student success—including for new majority students—being implemented across all areas of the institution?
  • How are campus visions and goals for equity being developed and actively implemented across the institution?
  • How are we creating more inclusive and responsive environments where all students feel welcomed and encouraged to succeed?
  • How are we balancing the need for safe and supportive learning environments with a commitment to free expression and a robust exchange of ideas and engagement with diverse perspectives?

Preparing and Engaging Faculty

  • How have faculty of all types—tenured, non-tenured, part-time, full-time, contingent, lecturers, visiting, and/or adjunct—been engaged  in developing and implementing strategies to improve student learning?
  • How are faculty roles changing?  What effect does this have on the institution and on higher education in general?  
  • What is the impact on educational quality of the changing roles of faculty?  How do we know?
  • How are we integrating faculty into campus-level innovations and initiatives for student success that include curricular and cocurricular components?
  • How are we preparing future faculty for an increasingly diverse student population?  What new knowledge, skills, and/or capacities do faculty of today (and tomorrow) need?
  • How are faculty encouraged and rewarded to engage in integrated teaching practices to improve student learning?
  • What programs have institutions implemented to prepare current faculty for the changing student population?  How have these programs affected the broader institutional culture as well?

Higher Education’s Response to Challenges to Liberal Education: Communicating with the Public—and With Each Other

  • With increasing challenges to higher education related to concerns about increasing costs and return on investment, institutions must offer a strong case for liberal education.  How are we communicating the value of liberal education to key external constituents—accreditors, community members, employers, legislators, parents, and policymakers?
  • How are we communicating the value of liberal education across our own campuses so all of us—administrators, faculty members, staff, and students—can respond to these challenges with shared understanding and a common language?
  • How can we strengthen connections with our students’ future employers to show how liberal education prepares students to tackle today’s challenging problems, participate as active citizens, and contribute to local and global economies?
  • How are we communicating about the cost of higher education to key constituents, on and off campus?

Technology, Digital Learning, and Student Success

  • How are digital learning practices transforming learning and contributing to improved student outcomes?
  • How is technology promoting access to higher education? Through admissions?  Transfer of credits?  Credentialing? Early college programs? What is working and how do we know?
  • What technologies are delivering on the promise to lower costs and increase access to higher education?
  • How are digital learning opportunities being integrated across the majors?
  • What digital learning practices are delivering on the promise to lower costs and increase access to high-quality higher education?
  • What is the impact of digital learning practices on new majority students?
  • How are ePortfolios helping students and institutions clarify, advance, and demonstrate outcomes?

The Power of Global and Civic Learning across the Curriculum

  • How is global learning being integrated across general education—as well as across majors and disciplines—to prepare students to engage in real world problem solving and provide them with powerful educational experiences?
  • How is the connection between college and civic learning being restored to foreground the importance of student exploration of values, meaning, and life purposes?  What types of global and/or civic experiences are helping students make connections between local and global challenges?
  • How are global learning and/or civic engagement experiences providing students with interdisciplinary learning opportunities with proven results?
  • How are global learning and/or civic engagement pedagogies putting students in situations where they are working with individuals from different backgrounds and/or perspectives different from their own?
  • How are international students being engaged in internationalization initiatives on campus to improve student learning and/or to create an inclusive culture?
  • How do we know global learning and/or civic experiences are resulting in student learning?

Higher Education Policy and the Public Good: Shifting Priorities, Aligning Practices

  • How are newly proposed state and federal policies related to efficiency and effectiveness facilitating—or harming—efforts to improve the quality of student learning?
  • How can policies at campus, state, or federal levels advance expansion of access to high-impact teaching and learning practices while also facilitating increased student graduation rates?
  • How are higher education leaders and practitioners productively responding to policy calls for greater accountability for student outcomes?
  • How are new approaches to assessment influencing accountability systems?  How could accountability systems advance a quality learning agenda?
  • Can new student transfer policies within and across systems facilitate progress toward degrees while also increasing student achievement of cross-cutting learning outcomes?
  • How can higher education leaders respond effectively to emerging new frameworks for quality assurance and accreditation?


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 on LEAP campuses.
  • 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.

In addition to proposals for the Annual Meeting proper for Thursday or Friday, we are seeking proposals for the ePortfolio Forum, which will be all day on Saturday.   You can indicate on the Proposal Submission Form if you are interested in presenting a session on ePortfolios within the Annual Meeting or during the ePortfolio Forum only.


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.

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

Roundtable Discussions
Roundtable discussions will provide opportunities for participants to share strategies and successful examples of academic and institutional leadership at all levels.  These are informal discussions, and participants will be welcome to rotate among several 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 28.

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


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 Suzanne Hyers at or call 202-387-3760.

Please submit your proposal on or before Friday, July 22, 2016.

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 e-mail to Suzanne Hyers at

Final Confirmation re: Receipt of Proposal:
AAC&U will send an e-mail on or before August 8 to every Contact Person as a final confirmation of receipt of your proposal. Please make a note of this. If you do not receive this e-mail, it is possible that your proposal was lost in the data transfer.

You will be notified via email by September 30, 2016, 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 15, 2016.

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, 2016
Proposals due for presentation in the Annual Meeting

August 12, 2016
Proposals due for presentation at the January 28 ePortfolio Forum

September 15, 2016
Registration materials available online

September 30, 2016
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.

To Go to ePortfolio Forum Proposal Form
Online ePortfolio Forum Proposal Form

Annual Meeting session proposals were due July 22, 2016

ePortfolio Forum session proposals are due August 12, 2016