From the Editor

“How lucky I am to have something that makes saying goodbye so hard.”

A. A. Milne, The Complete Tales of Winnie-the-Pooh

General education is one of the key parts of undergraduate learning that allow graduates to stay intellectually nimble in an ever-changing world. As such, AAC&U’s General Education Maps and Markers (GEMs) initiative was designed to develop principles (see page 6) through which institutions of higher education can create general education curricula that focus on core proficiencies, intentional educational pathways within and across institutions, and students’ engagement in work that allows assessment of their demonstrated accomplishments in inquiry- and problem-based learning.

In this Peer Review, supported by The Endeavor Foundation, the Practice section authors provide a retrospective of their work on the GEMs Pathways project, which put the GEMs principles into practice. Composed of faculty and administrators from three LEAP states—California, Indiana, and Texas—these partnership teams of two- and four-year institutions sought to actively make general education more effective for students. In this issue, team members share lessons learned as they aimed to reduce transfer-based barriers and improve student outcomes by making general education more effective. While the GEMs Pathways project has come to an end, the teams’ experiences offer guidance for others who are currently doing similar projects on their campuses and in their states.

Just as the time comes for one project to end and others to start, this fall I will make a transition of my own. By the time you read this message, I will have retired from my position as the Peer Review editor and director of publications and editorial services at AAC&U. When I started at AAC&U in November 2004, I had worked mostly on K−12 educational publications. In the time since, I’ve had the opportunity to learn much about higher education issues as the keeper of this esteemed journal. I could not have done this job effectively without the support of my AAC&U colleagues, who make our office one where lifelong learners thrive. Also, many thanks to Dave Cutler for his wonderful artwork that enhanced every Peer Review since 2001, and to Darbi Bossman for her lively issue design.

I’m excited about what will come next for me, but I’m sad to leave behind such a meaningful period of my life’s work. In many ways, this stage feels like the bookend to my undergraduate commencement because, even with careful preparation, the path ahead is bound to be filled with challenge. I am counting on the same essential learning outcomes that saw me through my professional career to serve as my compass in retirement.

Post-AAC&U, I’m looking forward to completing several writing projects that have been on hold for years. However, I think my first few weeks of retirement will be spent reflecting on the wonderful publishing career that I only hoped to achieve when I graduated from college forty years ago. My liberal education gave me the tools to navigate life’s choices and solve unscripted problems at work and home—not the least coming from being a parent of three! I’m forever grateful for those opportunities and for the chance to be part of an organization that allowed me to contribute to such an important mission.

In closing, thank you so much for your support of Peer Review. It has been my honor to work with authors from across the academy and to share their enlightening stories with members. After my departure, AAC&U will continue to publish a rich variety of valuable information through its many communications channels, and I look forward to my continued learning from a new vantage point.

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