For Immediate Release

David Tritelli
Vice President for Communications and Public Affairs
202-884-0812 (office)

AAC&U Launches New Project to Advance The LEAP Challenge at New England Institutions

Grant from Davis Educational Foundation Supports New Cohort of Eight LEAP Challenge Institutions Working Together to Advance Higher Levels of Persistence and Students’ Achievement of Key Learning Outcomes Through Signature Work

Nov 3, 2015

Washington, DC—November 3, 2015—Supported by a grant from the Davis Educational Foundation, the Association of American Colleges and Universities (AAC&U) is pleased to announce a new cohort of eight institutions joining The LEAP Challenge initiative.  The LEAP Challenge calls on educators to engage students in Signature Work that will prepare them to integrate and apply their learning to a significant project with meaning to the student and to society.

The new cohort of LEAP Challenge New England Institutions will work together to remap curricular pathways and design Signature Work projects to simultaneously support (1) deeper student engagement in learning, (2) higher levels of student persistence and accomplishment, and (3) fuller ways to make students’ accomplishments both visible and valued.

The LEAP Challenge New England Institutions include:

Boston University (MA)
Champlain College (VT)
Eastern Connecticut State University (CT)
Providence College (RI)
Quinnipiac University (CT)
University of Hartford (CT)
University of Massachusetts, Lowell  (MA)
University of Southern Maine (ME)

These institutions were chosen because their teaching and learning programs and practices already embody many LEAP-framed reforms and because their student-centered approaches position them to move to the next level of effectiveness in promoting students’ engaged learning and completion of Signature Work.  Some of these institutions also serve significant numbers of students traditionally less well-served in higher education and are committed to testing LEAP-framed strategies to advance equity and inclusive excellence.

Part of an emerging family of initiatives designed to advance the goals of The LEAP Challenge, The LEAP Challenge New England Institutions Initiative is housed in AAC&U’s Office of Integrative Liberal Learning and the Global Commons, and will be led by AAC&U Vice President Kathy Wolfe.

“We are very excited to work with the institutions in the LEAP Challenge New England initiative,” said AAC&U Vice President Kathy Wolfe.  “These institutions are all leaders in developing integrative curricular pathways and the larger AAC&U community will be able to learn a lot as they build on their accomplishments to expand students’ opportunities to engage in Signature Work—the kind of work that will truly prepare students for long-term success and flourishing. With the generous support provided by the Davis Educational Foundation, these campuses can explore a variety of strategies to prepare students for significant integrative projects, and will lead the way in establishing a regional network of institutional support through which these practices can spread.”

The initiative will last through the 2017-2018 academic year.  Institutional teams will participate in AAC&U’s 2016 Summer Institute on Integrative Learning and the Departments.  Participating institutions’ project results will also be featured at AAC&U meetings and in AAC&U periodicals. The project will also feature two regional institutes through which participating institutions can share their progress and insights with neighboring schools and develop a regional community of practice and support. 

For more information, see the initiative web page:

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.

Information about AAC&U membership, programs, and publications can be found at

About The Davis Educational Foundation

The Davis Educational Foundation, established as a public charitable foundation in 1985, supports the undergraduate programs of public and private, regionally accredited, baccalaureate degree granting colleges and universities throughout the six New England states. Elisabeth K. Davis and Stanton W. Davis co-founded the foundation after Mr. Davis's retirement as chairman of Shaw’s Supermarkets, Inc. The foundation is an expression of the couple’s shared support and value for higher education and has provided over $102 million in grants to more than 157 institutions.

Mr. Davis contributed tremendous vision to his business and the industry during periods of remarkable growth and transformation. Through automation and technological changes, he remained true to his core value of listening to the customer. This core value continues in the foundation’s highly individualized approach to grant making.

Information about the Davis Educational Foundation can be found at