California State University President John D. Welty has joined a new Presidents’ Trust formed by the Association of American Colleges and Universities.
President Welty said he and 81 other college and university leaders from around the country are forming the trust to strongly and collectively make the case for liberal education and its value in today’s world. The Presidents’ Trust is a leadership group within AAC&U’s national initiative, Liberal Education and America’s Promise (LEAP): Excellence for Everyone as a Nation Goes To College.
“We are at a crucial juncture in the history of U.S. higher education,” said Welty. “As the nation sets new goals for increasing college attainment, we need to focus on the kinds of learning that build both economic vitality and civic commitment.”
Members of the LEAP Presidents’ Trust are leaders from all sectors of higher education and are committed to advocating for the vision, values, and practices that connect liberal education with the individual and societal needs of the 21st century. Through regional and national meetings and their own advocacy efforts, trust members will engage with campus members and those outside of higher education about the core purposes and practices of liberal education. They are also providing leadership for advancing reforms in the practice of liberal education both on campus and with other groups and organizations with which they are affiliated.
In 2009-10, the core priority areas for the Presidents’ Trust include:
Making the economic case for liberal education
Making, and fulfilling, the civic case for liberal education
Engaging first-generation families and new Americans with the meaning and value of liberal education
Integrating liberal arts and professional preparation on campus
Charting a new direction for assessment and accountability.
“Members of the trust, including President Welty, are helping to redirect the national dialogue to address these critical issues,” said AAC&U President Carol Geary Schneider. “In this new global century, leaders of the trust will help ensure that all college students in all majors receive the kind of excellent education they deserve, one that provides them with broad knowledge, sophisticated intellectual and practical skills, a well-developed sense of personal and social responsibility, and the capacity to apply learning to new problems.”
The Presidents’ Trust advocates for a 21st century vision of liberal education that combines the best of that philosophy of education’s traditional focus on broad knowledge, analytic reasoning, and rigorous contextual study with newer approaches to helping students integrate and apply their learning in new settings. The trust believes that a 21st century liberal education empowers individuals with core knowledge and transferable skills and cultivates social responsibility and a strong sense of ethics and values.
Characterized by challenging encounters with important issues, a liberal education prepares graduates both for socially valued work and for civic leadership in their society. (See www.aacu.org/leap for full list of Presidents’ Trust members).
Liberal Education and America’s Promise (LEAP) is an initiative that champions the value of a liberal education—for individual students and for a nation dependent on economic creativity and democratic vitality. The initiative focuses campus practice on fostering essential learning outcomes for all students, whatever their chosen field of study.
LEAP is AAC&U’s primary vehicle for advancing and communicating about the importance of undergraduate liberal education for all students. LEAP seeks to engage the public with core questions about what really matters in college, to give students a compass to guide their learning, and to make a set of essential learning outcomes the preferred framework for educational excellence, assessment of learning, and new alignments between school and college.
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 1200 member institutions, including accredited public and private colleges and 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 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 the link below.
Association of American Colleges and Universities