Written by Ed Osborn
82 College and University Leaders to Work Together To Build Public Understanding of the Value of Liberal Education Outcomes for Students and American Society
Willimantic, CT -- The Association of American Colleges and Universities (AAC&U) announced today that President Elsa Núñez of Eastern Connecticut State University has joined the Presidents' Trust, a new group formed by the Association of American Colleges and Universities (AAC&U). President Núñez and an esteemed group of 81 other college and university leaders from around the country have formed the Trust to 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."
"The Presidents' Trust is a significant body of work that my distinguished colleagues have developed over time," said Núñez. "It reflects a new reality in our country -- that a liberal education is no longer just for the elite and privileged. Today's liberal arts colleges, both public and private, are providing access to a new generation of students that reflects the breadth of our modern society. The economic and social transformation occurring in our nation requires a citizenry that is able to adapt to change. I believe a liberal education can best provide today's college students with those adaptive skills."
Núñez is the only public university president in Connecticut to join the Presidents' Trust. In addition to Eastern Connecticut State University, Connecticut College and Fairfield University are the other two Connecticut schools to join the Trust.
Members of the 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 their campuses and with other groups and organizations with which they are affiliated.
In 2009-10, the priorities for the Presidents' Trust include making the economic case for liberal education; making 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; and charting a new direction for assessment and accountability.
"President Núñez is already providing valuable leadership by speaking out and ensuring that Eastern Connecticut State University students are receiving the kind of college education that will best prepare them for success in today's competitive global economy--an engaged and practical liberal education," said AAC&U President Carol Geary Schneider.
Núñez and Eastern Connecticut State University are well positioned to make a significant contribution to the Presidents' Trust. Eastern is the designated public liberal arts university of Connecticut, one of only 26 members of the Council of Public Liberal Arts Colleges, and has recently embarked on a new five-year Strategic Plan that strengthens the University's liberal arts core curriculum while grounding it in a variety of experiential learning opportunities for students -- internships, service learning, cooperative education, undergraduate research, and study abroad.
"To be successful in the future, our nation will need people who are committed to the democratic process, engaged in our local communities, and equipped to meet the challenges of today's technologically driven workplace. The liberal arts hold the best promise of educating our citizens in the 21st century," said Núñez.
The Presidents' Trust advocates for a vision of liberal education that combines a 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.
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. See www.aacu.org/leap for a full list of Presidents' Trust members.
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 1,200 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 www.aacu.org.