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W&L President Kenneth P. Ruscio Joins Presidents’ Trust to Advance Liberal Education

Washington and Lee University President Kenneth P. Ruscio is among 82 college and university presidents and chancellors who have joined a new Presidents’ Trust formed by the Association of American Colleges and Universities (AAC&U) to make the case for liberal education and its value in today’s world.

The Presidents’ Trust is a leadership group within the AAC&U’s national initiative, Liberal Education and America’s Promise: Excellence for Everyone as a Nation Goes to College.

“A liberal arts education emphasizes critical thinking and exposure to broad social, economic and political trends. This approach is more valuable than ever before as we help students make sense of the rapidly changing world around them,” said Ruscio. “We are pleased to be supporting the Association of American Colleges and Universities in the new effort to promote the liberal arts and especially to integrate liberal arts and professional preparation, which has long been a hallmark of Washington and Lee.”

According to the AAC&U, the core priority areas for the Presidents Trust for 2009-10 will include:

  • Making the economic case for liberal education;
  • Making-and fulfilling-the civic case for liberal education;
  • Engaging first-generation families and new Americans with the meaning and value of liberal education;
  • Integrating liberal arts and professional preparation on campus;
  • Charting a new direction for assessment and accountability.

“President Ruscio is already providing valuable leadership speaking out and ensuring that Washington and Lee students are receiving the kind of college education that will best prepare them for success in today’s competitive global economy – an engaged and practical liberal education,” said AAC&U President Carol Geary Schneider.

The Presidents’ Trust advocates for a 21st-century vision of liberal education that combines the best of that philosophy of education’s traditional focus on broad knowledge, analytic reasoning and rigorous contextual study with newer approaches to helping students integrate and apply their learning in new settings. The Trust believes that a 21st-century liberal education provides individuals with core knowledge and transferable skills and cultivates social responsibility and a strong sense of ethics and values. Characterized by challenging encounters with important issues, a liberal education prepares graduates both for socially valued work and for civic leadership in their society.

As part of the Presidents’ Trust, W&L has already hosted a regional working conference to discuss core purposes and practices of liberal arts education. Additional regional and national meetings will engage individuals both on and off campus in ongoing conversations.