For Immediate Release

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

New Strategic Goals Related to Liberal Education, Equity, Quality, and Social Responsibility to Guide AAC&U National Programs, Projects, and Resource Development from 2013 to 2017

Board Approves New Goals and AAC&U Announces New Program Office Organization, Personnel Changes, and new Online and Print Resources to Advance Key Strategic Goals

Nov 1, 2012

Washington, DC—The Board of Directors of the Association of American Colleges and Universities (AAC&U) announced today the approval of a new set of strategic goals to guide its work on behalf of its growing membership in the coming years.  These goals build on the successes of AAC&U existing signature initiatives including Liberal Educaton and America’s Promise (LEAP), Valid Assessment of Learning in Undergraduate Education (VALUE), Global Learning and Shared Futures, Project Kaleidoscope (PKAL/STEM), and Civic Learning and Democratic Engagement (CLDE), among others.

With its new strategic plan, AAC&U will work with its members to advance:

  • LEAP: Liberal Education as a Global Necessity
  • Quality: 21st-Century Markers for the Value of U.S. Degrees
  • Equity: Innovation, Inclusive Excellence, and Student Success
  • Social Responsibility: Integrative Liberal Learning for the Global Commons

Each of these priorities will be addressed through proactive advocacy, campus action, strategic alliances, and the deployment of authentic evidence. 

Project Kaleidoscope, AAC&U’s leadership unit for STEM reform, has developed an action plan that addresses each of these four AAC&U strategic goals—and, therefore, STEM learning reform efforts will be integrated throughout all parts of AAC&U’s anticipated future work. 

“The new strategic goals continue AAC&U’s historic advocacy of liberal learning while directly addressing the pressing need for such an education to be global in scope, high in quality, and inclusive in access,” said Bobby Fong, chair of AAC&U’s Board of Directors and President of Ursinus College. “The end of such an education is not only personal empowerment but preparation for civic leadership. The Board of Directors is proud to endorse the continuing relevance of liberal education and the evolving organization of AAC&U in meeting the challenges of the 21st century.”

AAC&U will formally release its new strategic plan in early 2013.

LEAP and Inclusive Excellence
AAC&U and its nearly 1,300 member institutions have made great strides in strengthening and building the case for an engaged and public-spirited liberal education through the many efforts supported through the LEAP initiative.  As part of its new strategic plan, AAC&U will continue its commitment to advancing the LEAP vision for a 21st-century liberal education, including a set of Essential Learning Outcomes for all students, meaningful assessments that document and deepen students’ achievement of these outcomes, and high-impact practices that engage student and prepare them for effective practice in the global economy and as responsible citizens.  Most of all, AAC&U will devote new efforts to making excellence inclusive and extending the advantages of a liberal education to all college students.

Liberal Education and the Liberal Arts
“AAC&U will expand its work to ensure that the LEAP framework and Principles of Excellence guide educational focus and innovation for all students across all fields of study and in all sectors of postsecondary education,” said AAC&U President Carol Geary Schneider.  “But this plan also devotes new energy and leadership to the catalytic role of the arts and sciences as an indispensable component of a high-quality twenty-first-century education.  Our members and I are, candidly, alarmed at the continuing assaults on disciplines that, historically and globally, have been recognized as absolutely essential to the future of democracy, to our success in an innovation-driven economy, and to America’s role in the global community. We intend to work actively to reposition the liberal arts and sciences as core components in a high-quality liberal education and as windows into the ‘big questions’ we need to answer together, both as citizens of a diverse democracy,  and as responsible partners in an interconnected world.”

How AAC&U Will Lead This Work
To ensure success with its new strategic priorities, AAC&U also is making several changes to its personnel and organizational structure.  AAC&U will organize its work—including programs for members, grant-funded initiatives, and print/online resources—through four educational affairs offices, including the existing Office of Quality, Curriculum, and Assessment led by Vice President Terry Rhodes and a renamed Office of Diversity, Equity, and Student Success led by Vice President Susan Albertine.  Debra Humphreys will now lead a newly configured Office of Communications, Policy, and Public Engagement. 

A newly appointed Vice President will lead a new Office of Integrative Liberal Learning and The Global Commons and is expected to begin work on January 1, 2013.  This new office will work on students’ engagement with “big questions” and rigorous inquiry across the liberal arts disciplines and in general education.

Under the leadership of Vice President Susan Albertine and Senior Director Tia McNair, projects in the Office of Diversity, Equity, and Student Success will advance AAC&U's work toward high-quality learning and 21st-century outcomes for all students, emphasizing the success of students historically underrepresented in higher education. The office intends to accelerate broad-scale systemic innovation to engage diversity and challenge inequities as definitive ways to make excellence inclusive, developing and supporting institutional change strategies at broad access institutions.

Project Kaleidoscope, now led by newly appointed Executive Director Kelly Mack, will work with all four of these offices in advancing the adoption of high-quality, inquiry-oriented STEM pedagogies, increasing STEM participation and success for underserved students, and in preparing a STEM-literate citizenry.

New Directions for Diversity, Democracy, and Equity
On November 1, 2012, Caryn McTighe Musil will assume her new role as Senior Fellow and Director of Civic Learning and Democracy (CLD) Initiatives when she steps down as Senior Vice President of Diversity, Equity, and Global Initiatives.  The CLD initiative will be housed in the office of AAC&U’s president, as part of the ongoing LEAP initiative.  Musil will help coordinate efforts across 13 cooperating national organizations to make civic learning for a diverse and globally connected democracy expected rather than optional for all college students, in all parts of postsecondary education.

In this context, AAC&U will work with partner organizations and campuses to map and promote the deep connections between students’ engagement with diversity and higher education’s mission-level role in preparing students to sustain a just and equitable democracy and economy.  AAC&U’s work on diversity and democracy will be guided by the set of recommendations made in the recently released report, A Crucible Moment: College Learning and Democracy’s Future for which Musil served as the lead author. 

AAC&U intends to expand its journal, Diversity & Democracy, in order to provide a shared space for its CLD partners to track collective progress in advancing higher education’s civic mission. Under the continued editorship of Kathryn Campbell and starting in 2013, Diversity & Democracy will be expanded from three issues to four each year, with added length as well.

As part of this transition, AAC&U also plans to reconfigure its coverage of women and gender inequity, two major AAC&U priorities since 1971. AAC&U will stop publishing the online periodical On Campus with Women but will continue to cover women in higher education at home and abroad, with particular attention to equity and opportunity in its remaining flagship publications, Liberal Education, Peer Review, and Diversity & Democracy.  Over the next few years, AAC&U will devote particular attention to issues of racial and gender equity in STEM fields through expansion of its NSF-supported national project on Preparing Critical Faculty for the Future Program and through the work of Project Kaleidoscope.

With a newly designed Web site scheduled for launch in 2013, AAC&U is also planning to expand its online resources and opportunities for social networking in relation to all of its priorities, including diversity, equity, and democratic engagement.