Press Release

AAC&U Launches New Program Office to Advance the Public Purposes of Higher Education

Washington, DC—The American Association of Colleges and Universities (AAC&U) announced today the formation of a new research and development office to advance the public purposes of higher education. AAC&U’s Office of Research and Public Purpose will explore the intersection of students’ career preparation, civic and community engagement, and their holistic well-being through a blend of campus-oriented programming and innovative research rooted in collaboration with member institutions and a diverse range of external partners.

“If higher education is to promote economic, community, and personal thriving, colleges and universities need to help students find symmetry of purpose across their roles as professionals, civic actors, and their personal well-being. The separation of these endeavors is a contemporary expression of liberal education, not a historical one. Integration will require the insight and evidence base to promote greater intentionality and coordination across silos,” said AAC&U President Lynn Pasquerella. “Our new Office of Research and Public Purpose is designed to provide both.”

The Office of Research and Public Purpose will be led by Ashley Finley, AAC&U’s vice president for research and senior advisor to the president. Along with guiding AAC&U’s own research efforts, including periodic surveys of employers, the office will collaborate with national partners to produce innovative research on topics such as faculty attitudes and behaviors related to integrating career preparedness into the curriculum, faculty attitudes regarding academic freedom, and civic and community engagement at community colleges. The Office of Research and Public Purpose will provide opportunities for campus engagement, including through AAC&U’s Curriculum-to-Career Innovations Institute and various efforts to implement curriculum-to-career models. The office will also engage in a new collaborative effort with Campus Compact to advance higher education’s commitments to democracy.

To learn more about the AAC&U Office of Research and Public Purpose, visit

About AAC&U

The American Association of Colleges and Universities (AAC&U) is a global membership organization dedicated to advancing the democratic purposes of higher education by promoting equity, innovation, and excellence in liberal education. Through our programs and events, publications and research, public advocacy, and campus-based projects, AAC&U serves as a catalyst and facilitator for innovations that improve educational quality and equity and that support the success of all students. In addition to accredited public and private, two-year, and four-year colleges and universities and state higher education systems and agencies throughout the United States, our membership includes degree-granting higher education institutions in more than twenty-five countries as well as other organizations and individuals. To learn more, visit