Written by Dwight Bachman
Eastern President Elsa Núñez has signed the compact, which was developed by the Association of American Colleges and Universities (AAC&U) and by employers working with AAC&U. AAC&U is a national organization of colleges and universities of which Eastern is a long-standing member. President Núñez also is a member of a special presidential leadership group within AAC&U called the LEAP Presidents Trust. Presidents Trust members and employers who work with them are the initial signatories to this ongoing national initiative to ensure that today's students are well prepared for economic, civic and global challenges.
Participating campuses and employers will work together through 2014 to showcase employer support for the aims and outcomes of a broad liberal education and to show how higher education is helping students connect college learning with their roles as professionals, citizens and members of the global community.
As part of the compact initiative, Eastern is partnering with Webster Bank, the Mohegan Tribal Council, Savings Institute Bank and Trust, Blum-Shapiro, Farmington Bank and the Willimantic Waste Company to underscore the economic value of liberal education and to provide students with more hands-on learning opportunities to connect their campus learning with real-world contexts and problems.
At an April 10 compact forum in Washington, D.C., featuring remarks by U.S. Under Secretary of Education Martha Kanter, AAC&U launched the new LEAP Employer-Educator Compact to make high quality college learning a shared national priority. More than 250 college presidents, business and nonprofit leaders have signed on to the LEAP Employer-Educator Compact. They have pledged to work together to ensure that all college students--including those attending two-year and four-year, public and private institutions--have access to a high quality liberal education that prepares them successfully for work, life and citizenship.
"Too many students believe that the key to economic success is completion of a major whose title seems to promise a job," said AAC&U president Carol Geary Schneider. "What the compact and the research on employer priorities show is that, whatever the choice of major, employers say that career success will require broad liberal learning, strong 21st century skills, and 'real-world' experience and savvy. We want to make sure students and their families hear this message from employers themselves."
"I am excited to be a part of this new national effort bringing employers and educators together to ensure that all our students understand what it takes to succeed in today's workplace and to partner on ways we can provide students more opportunities to apply their learning in real-world settings," said Núñez. "We are particularly pleased to partner in this initiative with our good friends at Webster Bank, Blum-Shapiro, the Mohegan Tribal Council and other University partners."
On April 10, AAC&U also released findings of a national survey that revealed that 74 percent of business and nonprofit leaders say they would recommend a 21st century liberal education to a young person in order to prepare for long-term professional success in today's global economy. The findings from this national survey also reveal that:
· Nearly all employers surveyed (93 percent) say, "a demonstrated capacity to think critically, communicate clearly, and solve complex problems is more important than a candidate's undergraduate major."
· Even more (95 percent) say they prioritize hiring college graduates with skills that will help them contribute to innovation in the workplace.
· About 95 percent of those surveyed also say it is important that those they hire demonstrate ethical judgment and integrity; intercultural skills; and the capacity for continued new learning.
· More than 75 percent of those surveyed say they want more emphasis on critical thinking, complex problem-solving, written and oral communication, and applied knowledge in real-world settings.
· 80 percent of employers agree that, regardless of major, every college student should acquire broad knowledge in the liberal arts and sciences.
Members of the Presidents Trust include leaders of institutions representing every sector of higher education--liberal arts colleges, community colleges, comprehensive state universities and research universities. Business and nonprofit leaders signing the compact include individuals from many sectors of the economy including: finance, engineering, manufacturing, healthcare, human services, insurance, education, media, retail, real estate and energy. For a full list of LEAP Presidents' Trust members and employers signing the compact, see: www.aacu.org/leap/presidentstrust/compact. For a report of the complete findings from the 2013 survey of business and non-profit leaders, see: www.aacu.org/leap/public_opinion_research.cfm.