For Immediate Release

David Tritelli
Vice President for Communications and Public Affairs
202-888-0811 (office)

AAC&U Presents 2017 Frederic W. Ness Book Award to The Aims of Higher Education: Problems of Morality and Justice

Edited by Harry Brighouse and Michael McPherson

Feb 3, 2017

Washington, DC—The Association of American Colleges and Universities (AAC&U) announced today the winner of its Frederic W. Ness Book Award, The Aims of Higher Education: Problems of Morality and Justice, a collection of essays published in 2015 by the University of Chicago Press. The Ness award is given for the book that best contributes to the understanding and improvement of liberal education, and was formally presented to the editors, Harry Brighouse and Michael McPherson, at AAC&U’s Annual Meeting on January 26, 2017, in San Francisco, California. Harry Brighouse is Professor of Philosophy at the University of Wisconsin-Madison and Michael McPherson is President of the Spencer Foundation.

In The Aims of Higher Education: Problems of Morality and Justice, Brighouse and McPherson bring together an exemplary set of essays on the changing role of higher education in America today, including essays by Amy Gutmann, Christoper Bertram, Paul Weithman, Kyla Ebels-Duggan, Allen Buchanan, Lionel K. McPherson, and Erin Kelly. Looking beyond the din of arguments over how universities should be financed, how they should be run, and what their contributions to the economy are, the contributions to this volume aim their sights on higher issues of moral and political value.

"The essays are original but accessible and we think that they not only enhance our understanding of what the aims of teachers and decision-makers in higher education should be, but will actually help professors to teach better and administrators to make better decisions," Brighouse said.

"We're delighted by the award, which recognizes the contribution that philosophers can make to public debate about higher education," McPherson added.

This year’s Ness award winner was selected by a committee of higher education leaders including Grant Cornwell (chair), President, Rollins College; James Grossman, Executive Director, American Historical Association; Lenore Rodicio, Executive Vice President and Provost, Miami Dade College; and Elizabeth Simmons, University Distinguished Professor of Physics and Dean, Lyman Briggs College at Michigan State University.

“At a time when the value of higher education, and liberal education specifically, are under great scrutiny, and our purpose is all too often reduced in public discourse to job training and workforce development, Brighouse and McPherson remind us of the continued importance of higher education in reproducing a democratic, civil, and just society,” Cornwell said.

The Ness Book Award was established by AAC&U in 1979 to honor AAC&U President Emeritus Frederic W. Ness. Recent award winners include Beyond the University: Why Liberal Education Matters by Michael S. Roth; Teaching Naked: How Moving Technology Out of Your College Classroom Will Improve Student Learning by José Antonio Bowen; Rethinking Undergraduate Business Education: Liberal Learning for the Profession by Anne Colby, Thomas Ehrlich, William Sullivan, and Jonathan R. Dolle; Why Choose the Liberal Arts? by Mark W. Roche; Tearing Down the Gates: Confronting the Class Divide in American Education by Peter Sacks; and Our Underachieving Colleges: A Candid Look at How Much Students Learn and Why They Should Be Learning More by Derek Bok.

Visit to learn more about The Aims of Higher Education: Problems of Morality and Justice.

For information about the Frederic W. Ness Book Award, visit

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 advantage of a liberal education to all students, regardless of academic specialization or intended career. Founded in 1915, AAC&U now comprises nearly 1,400 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.