The Teagle Foundation has awarded The New American Colleges and Universities (NAC&U), of which Belmont University is a member, a $150,000 grant for a project that will identify new approaches to build on the core values of a liberal education in a residential setting and prepare students for productive and successful careers. When the project–“Preparing 21st Century Students through New Visions for Faculty Evaluation, Campus Governance and Curriculum”–is completed, NAC&U hopes to have, among other outcomes, a curriculum development map that shows the integration of liberal and professional studies and emphasizes general education and disciplinary learning outcomes.
Sixteen members of the national consortium will participate in this project. In addition to Belmont, they are Arcadia University, Hamline University, Hampton University, John Carroll University, Nazareth College, Pacific Lutheran University, Samford University, The Sage Colleges, The University of Scranton, University of Evansville, University of Redlands, Valparaiso University, Wagner College, Westminster College and Widener University. This current project will implement goals outlined in NAC&U’s previous Teagle-funded project, “Preparing and Evaluating 21st Century Faculty: Aligning Expectations, Competencies, and Rewards.”
“Driven by our collective mission to promote the integration of liberal arts, professional studies and civic engagement, NAC&U members are well-positioned to proactively respond to changes in higher education,” said Richard Guarasci, NAC&U board chair and president of Wagner College. “We have always been focused on producing graduates who are prepared for the lives ahead of them, and this grant allows us to examine how we can achieve those outcomes and share them with other institutions.”
Rising concerns about the cost of higher education and the availability of jobs after graduation have led students and parents to focus on degrees geared toward particular professions. But a 2010 survey of employers conducted by the Association of American Colleges and Universities (AAC&U) found that employers are looking for learning outcomes emphasized in a liberal education. More than 75 percent of those surveyed stated that colleges should place more emphasis in the following areas: written and oral communication, critical thinking and analytic reasoning, complex problem solving and ethical decision making (See “Raising the Bar: Employers’ Views on College Learning in the Wake of the Economic Downturn, a survey of employers conducted for AAC&U by Hart Research Associates“).
By successfully integrating liberal education and professional studies, students and families can be assured they are getting the full value of the time and money spent on obtaining a college degree. This integration is a hallmark of NAC&U institutions.
“NAC&U members already have all of the pieces in place to promote the type of integration of liberal arts education and professional preparation that today’s employer’s demand and tomorrow’s graduates need,” said Mark A. Heckler, NAC&U board vice chair and president of Valparaiso University. “Our NAC&U institutions have an abundance of successful programs that accomplish these goals, our campus sizes are small enough to allow for effective interaction, and as a consortium our institutions have a long history of knowledge-sharing and dedication to best practices.”
About The Teagle Foundation
The Teagle Foundation provides leadership for liberal education, mobilizing the intellectual and financial resources that are necessary if today’s students are to have access to a challenging and transformative liberal education. The Foundation’s commitment to such education includes its grantmaking to institutions of higher education across the country, its long-established scholarship program for the children of employees of ExxonMobil, and its work helping economically disadvantaged young people in New York City—where the Foundation is based—gain admission to college and succeed once there.
About The New American Colleges and Universities
Founded in 1995, The New American Colleges and Universities is a national consortium of selective, small to mid-size (2,000-7,500 students) independent colleges and universities dedicated to the purposeful integration of liberal education, professional studies, and civic engagement. To improve the quality and effectiveness of teaching and learning among its members, The New American Colleges and Universities sponsors projects and conferences, administrator and faculty affinity groups, surveys and data benchmarking, and international study programs. The New American Colleges and Universities collectively and individually are often cited as models of the intentional integration of teaching and learning, scholarship, and service.