For Immediate Release

Dawn Michele Whitehead
Interim Vice President of Communications
Michael Zimmerman
WaCLA Chair, Vice President for Academic Affairs The Evergreen State College

Association of American Colleges and Universities and the Washington Consortium for the Liberal Arts Announce Washington State As 11th Partner State in AAC&U's LEAP States Initiative

May 19, 2015

AAC&U Washington Consortium for the Liberal Arts (WaCLA)

Washington, DC—The Association of American Colleges and Universities (AAC&U) and the Washington Consortium for the Liberal Arts (WaCLA) announced today that Washington is now a state partner in AAC&U's Centennial Campus Action, Advocacy, and Research Initiative, Liberal Education and America's Promise (LEAP): Excellence for Everyone as a Nation Goes to College. 

"The Washington Consortium for the Liberal Arts sought to become a LEAP partner state out of a deep sense of shared mission," said Michael Zimmerman, WaCLA Chair and Vice President for Academic Affairs at The Evergreen State College.  "Formalizing our alignment with LEAP will greatly strengthen our success in advocating for the value of the liberal arts for the broadest range of residents in preparation for work, life, and meaningful participation in our democracy."

The LEAP initiative provides an expanded platform for WaCLA to continue a dialogue with key state stakeholders about the role of liberal education in advancing goals for economic and civic vitality.  Through WaCLA's joint discussions across campuses and by explaining the value and power of the liberal arts more broadly, the consortium is building support for and understanding of the LEAP outcomes.  "We are currently exploring additional avenues for students to find and use their voices to advocate for the critical roles the facets of a liberal education has played in their lives.  We've come to see how great an impact students can have on the thinking of employers and legislators," Zimmerman said.  "Additionally, activities of this sort build confidence in students which helps them reach their myriad goals as they leave college."

Formed in 2012, the Washington Consortium for the Liberal Arts (WaCLA) is an association of Washington state public and private higher education institutions, organizations, and individuals promoting the value of a liberal arts education to the people and communities of the state.  WaCLA has a membership of 37 public and private colleges and universities, along with seven educational organizations and consortia. In 2014, WaCLA was given the Phi Beta Kappa Key of Excellence Award, with a prize of $10,000, for its work promoting the value of the liberal arts. 

"AAC&U is pleased to welcome Washington to LEAP," said AAC&U President Carol Geary Schneider.  "AAC&U and WaCLA educators share a passion for liberal education and a commitment to help all students achieve both broad learning about the world they will inherit—through studies in science, humanities, the arts, and the social sciences—and the critical skills they need to help create solutions for our future.  Given these shared commitments, we are delighted to work with WaCLA to ensure that college students throughout the consortium receive the best possible preparation for purposeful work and citizenship, and flourishing lives."

For more information about LEAP WaCLA, please refer to:

About LEAP

Liberal Education and America's Promise (LEAP) is an initiative that champions the value of a liberal education—for individual students and for a nation dependent on economic creativity and democratic vitality. The initiative focuses campus practice on fostering Essential Learning Outcomes for all students, whatever their chosen field of study.  LEAP seeks to engage the public with core questions about what really matters in college, to give students a compass to guide their learning, and to make a set of Essential Learning Outcomes the preferred framework for educational excellence, assessment of learning, and new alignments between school and college.

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 1,300 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 Washington Consortium for the Liberal Arts (WaCLA)

In an attempt to fulfill its mission of promoting the value and power of the liberal arts to the people of the state of Washington, WaCLA has undertaken numerous successful initiatives.  The consortium has, for example, run a day-long employer-educator forum bringing together more than 200 business leaders, legislators and educators to discuss ways they all might partner to build educational opportunities that will benefit students, employers and the state.  WaCLA also runs an annual scholarship contest for high school seniors that asks students to write about the importance of the liberal arts.  Similar annual scholarship contests are also run for university students.  As an organization, WaCLA has testified before the Washington state legislature and members regularly publish opinion pieces about the value of a liberal education and civic engagement.  For more information, go to