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AAC&U Forms Office of Research and Public Purpose

The American Association of Colleges and Universities (AAC&U) has launched a new program office dedicated to advancing the public purposes of higher education. The Office of Research and Public Purpose will "explore the intersection of students' career preparation, civic and community engagement, and their holistic well-being through a blend of campus-oriented programming and innovative research rooted in collaboration with member institutions and a diverse range of external partners," the organization explained in a news announcement. At the helm of the new office is Ashley Finley, AAC&U's vice president for research and senior advisor to the president.

The office will be tasked with:

  • Guiding AAC&U research, including periodic surveys of employers;
  • Collaboration with national partners to produce research on faculty attitudes and behaviors related to integrating career preparedness into the curriculum, faculty attitudes regarding academic freedom, civic and community engagement at community colleges, and other topics;
  • Providing opportunities for campus engagement, such as working with AAC&U's Curriculum-to-Career Innovations Institute and other efforts to implement curriculum-to-career models; and
  • Engaging with Campus Compact, a national nonprofit dedicated to higher education civic and community engagement, to advance higher ed's commitments to democracy.

"If higher education is to promote economic, community, and personal thriving, colleges and universities need to help students find symmetry of purpose across their roles as professionals, civic actors, and their personal well-being," said AAC&U President Lynn Pasquerella, in a statement. "The separation of these endeavors is a contemporary expression of liberal education, not a historical one. Integration will require the insight and evidence base to promote greater intentionality and coordination across silos. Our new Office of Research and Public Purpose is designed to provide both."

About the Author

Rhea Kelly is editor in chief for Campus Technology, THE Journal, and Spaces4Learning. She can be reached at [email protected].

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