Hobart and William Smith Colleges are the newest member of a consortium of 24 renowned institutions devoted to advancing liberal arts education. By joining the Alliance to Advance Liberal Arts Colleges (AALAC), HWS commits to working with other member colleges to enhance student experiences, develop faculty leadership, and better address the challenges facing liberal arts colleges in the U.S.
“For the past decade, AALAC’s workshop program has enabled faculty at many of the nation’s leading liberal arts colleges to come together around shared research and teaching interests and to create valuable and enduring professional networks,” says Andrew Shennan, Provost and Dean of the College at Wellesley College. “The AALAC deans are delighted to welcome HWS into our group and confident that HWS faculty will contribute significantly to these networks.”
“This is an exciting new step for Hobart and William Smith,” says President Joyce P. Jacobsen. “By working alongside these other esteemed institutions, we will be better positioned to address our common goals and challenges, and be better equipped to meet needs and opportunities unique to our campus.”
The AALAC mission statement notes that while member colleges “vary in size, region, and resources,” they all strive to advance liberal arts education and “develop a broader view of their institutions in the landscape of higher education and thereby to address more effectively the pressing challenges facing American liberal arts colleges. Through assessment of AALAC activities and dissemination of our findings, the organization shares best practices with other liberal arts colleges and makes the case to the larger public for the value of liberal education in the 21st century.”
An initial group of 23 liberal arts colleges first convened in 2006 through a Faculty Career Enhancement Program grant from the Mellon Foundation. The grant supported collaborative initiatives for faculty development in their fields and in the broader liberal arts sector. At the completion of the grant in 2011, the Mellon 23 was renamed the Alliance to Advance Liberal Arts Colleges, as many of the member colleges planned to continue the collaboration. Today, the AALAC is supported entirely with funding from its member institutions.
The current AALAC members are: Amherst College, Barnard College, Bryn Mawr College, Carleton College, Colorado College, Davidson College, Denison University, Furman University, Grinnell College, Haverford College, Macalester College, Middlebury College, Mount Holyoke College, Oberlin College, Pomona College, Reed College, Rhodes College, Scripps College, Smith College, Swarthmore College, Vassar College, Wesleyan University, Wellesley College and Williams College.