Press Release

AAC&U Partners with Historic Sotterley

Washington, DC—In 2016, the Association of American Colleges and Universities embarked on a partnership with the W.K. Kellogg Foundation in support of the Truth, Racial Healing & Transformation (TRHT) enterprise. TRHT is a comprehensive, national and community-based process designed to catalyze transformational and sustainable change aimed at addressing the historic and contemporary effects of racism.

Grounded in a vision of what America will look like once our belief in a hierarchy of human value has been jettisoned, the five pillars of the TRHT framework—narrative change, racial healing and relationship building, separation, law, and economy—provide a foundation for engaging communities in racial healing by destabilizing the persistent structures of racism.

Since the inception of this collaboration, AAC&U has worked with higher education institutions across the country to develop self-sustaining, community-integrated TRHT Campus Centers and joined with more than a hundred diverse organizations and individuals in an effort to heal racial divides in communities across the country, empowering community stakeholders to uproot the conscious and unconscious biases that have triggered racial violence and tension in American society.

“In the wake of a mass shooting motivated by racism in El Paso, Texas, this past week, the need for communities to come together and act in support of racial healing and societal transformation seems more urgent than ever,” said AAC&U President Lynn Pasquerella.

One of AAC&U’s local partners, Historic Sotterley, will be honoring the memories of those who perished and those who survived the trans-Atlantic slave trade at a United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) Day for the Remembrance of the Slave Trade and its Abolition event on August 23, 2019. Throughout the day, participants will join in a celebration of the contributions of the survivors of the slave trade, upon whose strength our nation and shared history were forged. Discussions will take place around how the legacies of slavery continue to impact us, and at the end of the ceremony, Historic Sotterley’s bell will ring, commemorating the 29 enslaved persons known to have died on the Middle Passage to this site.

In addition, on September 5–7, Sotterley, with support from Maryland Humanities, will be hosting Building Bridges to Common Ground: Resilience, Remembrance, Honor and Equity. This multi-day event will feature presentations on “Interpreting Difficult History at James Madison’s Montpelier,” “Power in the Name” about naming practices, and a “Descendant Panel Discussion” in which descendants of owners and the enslaved will tell their stories and speak about the value of historic preservation.

For more information about these upcoming events or to register, please visit

Historic Sotterley connects today’s generations through the stories and lives of its past. Their mission to “Preserve our historic structures and natural environment and use the powerful stories of our land, lives and labor to bring American history to life while serving as an educational and cultural resource” has resulted in a wide range of programming that includes Education Without Boundaries for school groups; Growing for Good, using Sotterley’s sustainable farming to provide food for those in need throughout the region; and Building a Better Community, centered around the Descendant’s Project, connecting the descendants of all who lived and worked on the grounds of Sotterley.

AAC&U is proud to join Historic Sotterley in advancing a common commitment to promoting positive change. By sharing our stories, recognizing our shared humanity, and having the courage to confront the past, we will lead the way in creating a more just and equitable future.

About AAC&U

AAC&U is the leading national association dedicated to advancing the vitality and public standing of liberal education by making quality and equity the foundations for excellence in undergraduate education in service to democracy. Its members are committed to extending the advantages of a liberal education to all students, regardless of academic specialization or intended career. Founded in 1915, AAC&U now comprises 1,400 member institutions—including accredited public and private colleges, community colleges, research universities, and comprehensive universities of every type and size.

AAC&U functions as a catalyst and facilitator, forging links among presidents, administrators, faculty, and staff engaged in institutional and curricular planning. Through a broad range of activities, AAC&U reinforces the collective commitment to liberal education at the national, local, and global levels. Its high-quality programs, publications, research, meetings, institutes, public outreach efforts, and campus-based projects help individual institutions ensure that the quality of student learning is central to their work as they evolve to meet new economic and social challenges.

Information about AAC&U can be found at