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For Immediate Release

March 16, 2005

Contact: Rebecca Karoff
rkaroff@uwsa.edu
(608) 263-2728

UW System joins national partnership to promote value of liberal education

MADISON - The University of Wisconsin System has entered a partnership with the Association of American Colleges and Universities (AAC&U) to promote the importance of liberal education for students in Wisconsin and across the nation.

The national partnership is part of an ongoing UW System initiative, The Currency of the Liberal Arts and Sciences: Rethinking Liberal Education in Wisconsin. As a partner with AAC&U, Wisconsin becomes the first state to pilot activities as part of a national advocacy initiative, Liberal Education and America's Promise (LEAP): Excellence for Everyone as a Nation Goes to College.

"We are honored to collaborate with the Association of American Colleges and Universities to further promote our shared goals to make college accessible and purposeful for all students," said UW System President Kevin P. Reilly. "The LEAP Campaign is a logical extension of our efforts to increase access to Wisconsin citizens, and to provide quality education for all our students. LEAP will further the university's mission to be a developer of advanced human potential, and to contribute to the economic, cultural, and social well-being of the state."

AAC&U's new LEAP Campaign is designed to champion the value of an engaged liberal education, both for individual students and for a nation increasingly dependent on economic creativity and democratic vitality.  The campaign, first announced at AAC&U's national meeting in San Francisco this January, will expand understanding of the value of a college education, and how learning can empower students to succeed and make a difference in the 21st century.

"The state of Wisconsin is ahead of the curve in bringing the crucial issue of what students need to learn in college to the attention of its residents," said AAC&U President Carol Geary Schneider.  "Business and civic leaders in Wisconsin and around the nation agree that providing an engaged and practical liberal education to all who aspire to a college education is key to Wisconsin's civic and economic future, and the success of all the state's college students."

Liberal Education and America's Promise is designed to spark public debate about the knowledge, skills, and values today's students need; to challenge the belief that students must choose either a practical education or a liberal education; to make visible current inequities that steer low-income students to programs that teach narrow job skills, while more advantaged students choose liberal education; and to document national and state progress in providing every student with access to a high-quality, liberal arts education.

AAC&U is providing initial funding to begin pilot activities in Wisconsin, and further grant support is expected. Activities will include focus groups to gain a better understanding of high school and college students' goals for college learning; campus-based dialogues to chart changes in teaching and learning; campus-community dialogues on what really matters in college learning; and development of a Leadership Council, whose members will represent politics, business, industry, arts, the non-profit sector, and all levels of education.

"We often hear from business leaders that they want to hire graduates who can think critically, solve problems, adapt to change, communicate effectively, and work in a diverse, global environment," Reilly said.  "In a world that is constantly changing, a liberal education is, indeed, a practical grounding for a productive and fulfilling life."

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For more information on The Currency of the Liberal Arts and Sciences: Rethinking Liberal Education in Wisconsin , please contact Rebecca Karoff at (608) 263-2728 or rkaroff@uwsa.edu.

For more information on the national LEAP Campaign, contact Debra Humphreys, AAC&U Vice President for Communication and Public Affairs, at (202) 387-3760, ext. 422, or at Humphreys@aacu.org.