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U.S. University Group Picks N.D. Academic Team for 2011 National Conference Feature Presentation

Posted on 11/24/2010

UND, NDSU, BSC collaborative project describes state higher ed partnerships

The American Association of Colleges & Universities (AAC&U) has designated a presentation by Dr. Thomas Steen and two colleagues from other N.D. institutions as a LEAP Featured Session at the fall 2011 AAC&U conference. Steen is associate professor in the University of North Dakota Department of Physical Education, Exercise Science & Wellness.

The collaborative presentation titled "Building State System Partnerships: What, Exactly, Do We Do Together?" will be a key part of the conference with the theme "General Education and Assessment 3.0: Next Level Practices Now."

Steen's co-presenters are Ryan Pitcher, assistant professor of Spanish at Bismarck State College and the school's general education representative on the North Dakota General Education Council; and Dr. Larry Peterson, professor in the North Dakota State University Department of History, Philosophy & Religious Studies. Peterson is NDSU's general education coordinator.

"This session is part of our leadership in the new North Dakota General Education Council," said Steen, who also is director of the UND Office of Essential Studies. "That work has led to us getting in on ground floor of national work of similar nature. For example, I just was in Oregon to see their new state collaboration at work. We are one of only six states doing this, but there are more in line to join."

"This summer, North Dakota was named as the sixth partner state in Liberal Education and America's Promise, or LEAP," Steen said. "UND has been a part of the state's LEAP work since it began, and we continue to play an important part in the North Dakota general education collaboration as it moves ahead. We are also involved in national conversations with other states as part of the network that the AAC&U has developed to support LEAP."

LEAP is a national initiative that seeks to strengthen undergraduate learning and general education through statewide or system-wide collaborations. Initiated and supported by the AAC&U, LEAP states bring together their institutions of higher education to promote a college education that is designed to prepare students "to live responsible, productive, and creative lives in a dramatically changing world," in the words of the AAC&U Statement on Liberal Learning.

"Because we are in a relatively small state where we have the capacity to bring together all our institutions and because North Dakota already has one of the best systems for transfer in the nation, we have received a good bit of national attention for our general education collaboration," Steen said.

"Those are some of the key reasons for our being invited to become the sixth LEAP state," he said. "And those are some of the reasons why we are being invited to participate in discussions with other state collaborations in Oregon, Wisconsin, California, and Utah and why we are being invited to write and speak about our experiences by organizations such as the AAC&U and the AGLS (Association for General and Liberal Studies)."

The American Association of Colleges & Universities is the leading national association concerned with the quality, vitality, and public standing of undergraduate liberal education. Its members are committed to extending the advantages of a liberal education to all students, regardless of academic specialization or intended career. Founded in 1915, AAC&U now comprises 1,200 member institutions-including accredited public and private colleges and universities of every type and size.

In a letter notifying Steen that his presentation had been designated a major session at the group's 2011 annual conference, Nancy O'Neill, director of the AAC&U Integrative Programs and the LEAP Campus, said: "I want to thank you for your efforts to integrate the essential outcomes, principles of excellence, and high-impact practices identified through LEAP into your campus work."

According to O'Neill, a Featured Session designation indicates to participants that they will learn how a member of the Campus Action Network (CAN) is explicitly drawing on AAC&U's LEAP Initiative to enhance their own campus work.

Bismarck State CollegeDakota College at BottineauDickinson State UniversityLake Region State CollegeMayville State UniversityMinot State UniversityNorth Dakota State College of ScienceNorth Dakota State UniversityUniversity of North DakotaValley City State UniversityWilliston State College
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