Liberal Education

From the Editor

Ninety years ago the Proceedings of the first Annual Meeting of the newly formed Association of American Colleges were published in the Association's journal, the Bulletin. This issue of the Bulletin's successor, Volume 90 of Liberal Education, looks back at that first publication with its record of the ideas that forged unity among 203 institutions that had never previously organized in common purpose. United in order that their institutions might prevail amid the growing competitors to their tradition of undergraduate education, the founders aspired to influence through education the building of a strong nation. In the spirit of their ambitions, the Featured Topic section takes stock of the current enterprises in undergraduate education and looks forward across the educational horizon.

Reading those yellowing pages of 1915, I absorbed the ideas that the speakers developed in their formal and highly literate prose style with which presidents addressed the assembled colleague presidents. It was a deeply satisfying encounter, something of a voyage of discovery, with those founders. The present-day commentators to the articles selected for reprinting, Bobby Fong and Nancy Dye, note that the founders' interests are earlier versions of the concerns that contemporary presidents attend to. How enlightening it is to have Fred Rudolph, commenting on two talks from the Bulletin, bring his considerable knowledge of the history of higher education to understanding the challenges facing the church-related colleges of 1915. For the present environment, Elisabeth Zinser recapitulates in contemporary terms the importance of liberal education for all undergraduates. And just as the convener of that first meeting, Robert Kelly, imagined a national vision for the many regional institutions, Martha Nussbaum now imagines a global vision of liberal education.

The presence of the past can enlarge our comprehension of the endeavors that engage all of us: the capacious liberal education to which every student should have access for their full human development. It was the hope of the founders. And it is our hope for the twenty-first century.

Previous Issues