For Immediate Release

Dawn Michele Whitehead
Interim Vice President of Communications

Association of American Colleges and Universities Releases “Step Up and Lead for Equity”; Calls for Stronger Leadership and Campus Action to Advance Inclusive Excellence in Education

Apr 15, 2015

Washington, DC—At a forum co-sponsored by the Los Angeles Area Chamber of Commerce and held at the Millennium Biltmore Hotel in Los Angeles, the Association of American Colleges and Universities (AAC&U) released today two publications as part of its Centennial Year exploration of equity and inclusive excellence.

In announcing the association’s Centennial Year focus, AAC&U’s President Carol Geary Schneider noted that, “AAC&U’s approach to inclusive excellence encompasses not only what is taught—the knowledge, skills, and ethical responsibility needed to contribute to a diverse and globally engaged democracy—but also who is taught.”  She pointed out that “America’s future flourishing depends on how well we prepare students to create solutions to our society’s myriad challenges—civic, economic, scientific, cross-cultural, and ethical. And, in a diverse and still stratified society, that will require a new focus on students from groups that historically have been underserved at all levels of our educational system.”

Much of the national discourse on higher education has been focused on how we can make progress in improving rates of college access, readiness, and completion.  AAC&U is advancing work in all these areas.  But, it is also calling today for leadership and campus action to bring together work on equity with work on improving the quality of college learning outcomes to ensure all students’ long-term flourishing and success.

To assist leaders ready to work on reversing the deep divides in higher education and our society, AAC&U released today:

Step Up and Lead for Equity: What Higher Education Can Do to Reverse Our Deepening Divides

In this powerful, data-rich, and accessible folio, AAC&U presents compelling evidence and analysis on equity and educational success; the role of quality learning in advancing opportunity, building economic vitality, and strengthening our democracy; and the role higher education can and must play in advancing equity-minded practices and building institutions characterized by inclusive excellence. This publication was funded in part with support from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.

Committing to Equity and Inclusive Excellence: A Campus Guide for Self-Study and Planning

In this companion guide, AAC&U provides campus leaders, faculty, and other educational practitioners a set of questions and 10 action steps designed to advance needed dialogue and action throughout higher education.  Covering such areas as student demographic trends, campus climate, culturally competent teaching strategies, clear goals for learning and aligned guided pathways, and equity-minded campus action and strategic planning, this guide will help colleges and universities of all types to ensure that all students—including new majority students—experience the most powerful forms of learning that prepare them to succeed in this global century.

The guide is distinctive in its assertion that expanding access to quality learning requires institutions both to clarify the component elements of a quality education, for students and educators, and also to map their educational pathways to ensure that students are consistently working, across the entire curriculum and co-curriculum, on the knowledge, skills, and collaborative problem-solving that will prepare them both for the economy and as contributing citizens. 

AAC&U released these new resources at a forum in Los Angeles that brought together educational, policy, civic, and business leaders to examine the learning all college students need to thrive in a knowledge economy and participate actively and responsibly in a diverse and global society.  As part of the event, participants engaged in a searching dialogue on this “equity imperative” and how to advance it. 

The forum also featured examples of “guided pathway” programs, practices, and policies in California—programs and policies that advance inclusive excellence and that deserve greater support so that they can be scaled to serve more of California’s traditionally underrepresented students.

The Los Angeles Forum featured presentations, including by:  

Christopher Thornberg, Founding Partner, Beacon Economics, LLC
Estela Bensimon Professor of Higher Education and Co-director of the Center for Urban Education, University of Southern California
Mildred García, President, California State University, Fullerton
David Rattray, Executive Vice President, Education and Workforce Development, Los Angeles Area Chamber of Commerce, and President and Executive Director, UNITE-LA
Luis Faura, President and CEO, C&F Foods
Devorah Lieberman, President, University of La Verne
Carol Geary Schneider, President, AAC&U
Eduardo Ochoa, President, California State University, Monterey Bay
David Oxtoby, President, Pomona College

To order or download copies of these new resources, see:

The Los Angeles Forum was supported by gifts from: Carnegie Corporation of New York, The Charles Engelhard Foundation, The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, The Kresge Foundation, Lumina Foundation, Alfred P. Sloan Foundation, and The Teagle Foundation.

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