McDaniel to help set national standards for liberal arts schools

December 08, 2008

McDaniel College is among a select group of U.S. institutions tapped to form the national Leadership Coalition to help establish the model of a successful liberal arts education.

McDaniel President Joan Develin Coley said that being selected to participate in this national coalition of 45 U.S. colleges and universities is a recognition of McDaniel’s success in engaging its students inside and outside of the classroom, as well as the college’s emphasis on civic engagement.

“The idea is that students learn, and retain what they have learned, better when they are actively involved in something, such as a project, that is related to what they are learning,” Coley said in a recent interview.

The Leadership Coalition – which also includes Bryn Mawr College, Sarah Lawrence College and Clark University – will “demonstrate how making a priority of creating and sustaining a campus culture for learning elevates expectations, involves greater faculty and student interaction, broadens reward structures, and results in greater attainment of the academic, well-being, and civic development of students,” according to the Association of American Colleges and Universities, which helped select the participating schools.

The Coalition colleges will work to develop models of “how a campus culture focused on actively engaging students in learning, and evaluating their success in doing so, can address the full dimensions of the intellectual, emotional and civic flourishing of students,” according to the AACU.

The Coalition includes an overseas school, the European College of Liberal Arts in Berlin, Germany, which is the group’s 46th member.

As part of the Coalition, McDaniel will receive grant funding during the next two years to work on setting standards for how to effectively deliver a liberal arts education.

The coalition, which met for the first time for a Presidents Symposium on Nov. 10-11 in Washington, D.C., is funded by the S. Engelhard Center, the Charles Engelhard Foundation, the Christian A. Johnson Endeavor Foundation, and the Lumina Foundation, the Bringing Theory to Practice Project, an independent project in partnership with the Association of American Colleges and Universities.

According to the AACU, these Coalition member colleges have agreed to a set of key commitments:

- To articulate, through conversations on their home campuses, the meaning of a “campus culture for learning” and develop strategies for fostering such a standard.
- To create a leadership/planning team to devise plans for home campuses and then present those plans at a national workshop next year.
- To implement their plans during the 2009 calendar year. These campus projects will form the examples that will make up a nationally distributed publication to be held up as model of “successful, effective and affordable ‘Strategies for Change in Creating and Sustaining Campus Cultures for Learning.’”

Coley said that during the coming two years, people can expect to see more courses that encourage service learning as a part of the overall learning experience.

“The best learning doesn’t necessarily happen in the classroom,” she said.

The complete list of Coalition members:
Allegheny College
Bates College
Bennington College
Bryn Mawr College
Butler University
California State University-Chico
Clark University
Colorado College
Concordia College-Moorhead
Dickinson College
Drury University
Elizabethtown College
Elon University
European College of Liberal Arts, Berlin
Franklin and Marshall College
Franklin College
Georgetown University
Georgia Gwinnett College
Hampshire College
Hendrix College
Heritage University
Lebanon Valley College
Long Island University
Marlboro College
McDaniel College
Montclair State University
New England College
Pitzer College
Ripon College
Sarah Lawrence College
School of the Art Institute of Chicago
St. Edward's University
State University of New York at Geneseo
State University of New York-Purchase College
The Evergreen State College
The Richard Stockton College of New Jersey
University of Maine at Farmington
University of North Florida
University of Southern Maine
Ursinus College
Wagner College
Wartburg College
Washington & Jefferson College
Washington and Lee University
Westminster College
Wheelock College