Press Release

The Association of American Colleges and Universities and the College System of Tennessee Announce Tennessee as the 14th Partner State in the AAC&U LEAP States Initiative

Washington, DC—August 25, 2020—The Association of American Colleges and Universities (AAC&U) and the College System of Tennessee announced today that Tennessee is now a state partner in the AAC&U LEAP States Initiative.

Through the LEAP States Initiative, educators in states, state systems, and consortia collaborate in support of transformational change and educational alignment intended to raise the quality of college learning within and across states. The initiative seeks to advance essential learning outcomes, high-impact practices, and assessment for general and liberal education while also advising on an array of initiatives promoted by initiative partners. AAC&U offers practical assistance, encourages innovation, and provides a national voice for systems, consortia, states, and regions engaging in this work at scale. Responding to the need in states and systems to address high-quality degree attainment for all students—in traditional, hybrid, and online venues—the initiative works to raise levels of inclusion, equity, and achievement for all students.

“For the last four years, the College System of Tennessee has aligned its student success work closely with the major tenets of AAC&U’s LEAP initiative. Seeking out a formal partnership with AAC&U seemed to be a natural progression of our work as we seek to strengthen our public commitment to equity-minded teaching and the advancement of transparency in student learning,” said Heidi Leming, Vice Chancellor for Student Success at the College System of Tennessee.

The LEAP States Initiative provides an expanded platform for dialogue with key state stakeholders about the role of liberal education in advancing goals for economic and civic vitality. Through the planning and partnerships offered by LEAP States, the College System of Tennessee will further its systemic educational reform goals by addressing access and equity through purposeful inclusion of high-impact practices across the curriculum. “Participation with other LEAP states will provide the professional support and collective learning needed to support large-scale collaboration and transformational change,” Leming said.

The College System of Tennessee consists of 40 institutions with a combined annual enrollment of nearly 120,000 students, making it the largest system of public higher education in Tennessee. The system’s 13 community colleges and 27 colleges of applied technology offer classes in 90 of Tennessee’s 95 counties. Each year, the system also credentials 22,000 people, making them job-ready and better prepared to enter or advance in the 21st-century workforce.

“AAC&U is thrilled to partner with the College System of Tennessee and to support student success efforts across the state,” said AAC&U President Lynn Pasquerella. “Tennessee’s participation in the initiative will help accelerate the work of all the LEAP State partners.”

About AAC&U
AAC&U is the leading national association concerned with the quality, vitality, and public standing of undergraduate liberal education. 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 more than 1,200 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, and faculty members who are engaged in institutional and curricular planning. Its mission is to reinforce the collective commitment to liberal education and inclusive excellence at both the national and local levels, and to help individual institutions keep the quality of student learning at the core of their work as they evolve to meet new economic and social challenges.

About the College System of Tennessee
The College System of Tennessee is the largest system of higher education in Tennessee. It is governed by 19 board members. The board meets four times a year at regularly scheduled meetings, and the chairman may call additional meetings during the year as needed. The board sets policies and guidelines that govern all institutions in the system. All board meetings are open to the public and the press as observers under Tennessee law. The College System of Tennessee consists of 40 institutions, 13 community colleges, and 27 colleges of applied technology, offering classes in 90 of Tennessee's 95 counties. For more information, visit