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ERIC Number: EJ1095450
Record Type: Journal
Publication Date: 2015
Pages: N/A
Abstractor: As Provided
Reference Count: N/A
ISSN: ISSN-0024-1822
The Role of Faculty in the Transformation of AAC&U: A Personal Essay
Gaff, Jerry
Liberal Education, v101 n3 Sum 2015
During the first sixty years after the founding of the Association of American Colleges (AAC) in 1915, it was an association of institutions and their presidents; faculty members were conspicuous by their absence. Jerry Gaff is senior scholar at the Association of American Colleges and Universities. He arrived in 1975 to direct a project on faculty development and has been intimately involved in the four decades since, during which faculty have played increasingly important roles. For that reason, this article is more of a personal essay than an objective history. Gaff writes that he knew the leaders personally and was a participant observer in the changes taking place within the association. He notes that no one could have envisioned the magnitude of these changes. Indeed, in 1976 the future of AAC looked bleak. but over time a new, more vibrant organization did emerge. The meaning of liberal education was unpacked and redefined to include broad general knowledge, intellectual skills, personal qualities, and the integration and application of learning to help solve real-world problems. Education was more closely tied to serious issues in students' own lives, showing them the power of ideas. This expanded concept of liberal education was applied to a much more diverse student population. Each of these refinements involved an action agenda the association would embrace, all involving a central role for faculty. It was no coincidence that the refocused association was one in which faculty came to play a major, even crucial and leadership, role. Over several decades, AAC formed relationships with funding agencies that saw the association as a vehicle for achieving their educational aspirations. Increasingly, the philanthropic community turned its attention to higher education and provided support for projects that included faculty members. There were many funded projects operated over the years, but for the most part they fell into two broad categories: diversity and quality. Starting in 1991, the Asheville Institute on General Education was held in partnership with the University of North Carolina at Asheville. The teams were to consist primarily of faculty members and to include an academic administrator to support the work of the team. The Asheville Institute ran through 2003, when it was expanded and renamed the the American Association of Colleges & Universities (AAC&U) Institute on General Education and began rotating to different campus locations. "Assessment" was added to the title of the institute in 2009. In 2015, this institute held its twenty-fifth session, becoming AAC&U's longest-running institute. AAC&U provides opportunities for faculty members to broaden their knowledge and perspectives, especially by interacting with a variety of campus administrators, faculty from other fields, system officials, policymakers, philanthropists, and national educational leaders. In this way, they learn to become not only better teachers but also more effective leaders and more complete professionals.
Association of American Colleges and Universities. 1818 R Street NW, Washington, DC 20009. Tel: 800-297-3775; Tel: 202-387-3760; Fax: 202-265-9532; e-mail:; Web site:
Publication Type: Journal Articles; Reports - Descriptive
Education Level: Higher Education; Postsecondary Education
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A
Identifiers - Location: North Carolina