Published on December 19, 2012 by William Nunnelley  

Samford University will join 15 other members of The New American Colleges and Universities (NAC&U) educational consortium that will use a $150,000 grant from The Teagle Foundation to identify new ways for the integration of liberal arts and professional education to promote better student outcomes.

The study is partially in response to a 2010 survey of employers showing that 75 percent want colleges to place more emphasis on written and oral communication, critical thinking and analytic reasoning, complex problem solving and ethical decision making.

The Association of American Colleges and Universities (AAC&U) conducted the survey because of rising concerns about the cost of higher education and the availability of jobs after graduation that have led students and parents to focus on degrees geared toward particular professions.

"Driven by our collective mission to promote the integration of liberal arts, professional studies and civic engagement, NAC&U members are well-positioned to proactively respond to changes in higher education," said Richard Guarasci, NAC&U board chair and president of Wagner College. "We have always been focused on producing graduates who are prepared for the lives ahead of them, and this grant allows us to examine how we can achieve those outcomes and share them with other institutions."

When the project, "Preparing 21st Century Students through New Visions for Faculty Evaluation, Campus Governance and Curriculum," is completed, NAC&U hopes to have, among other outcomes, a curriculum development map that shows the integration of liberal arts and professional studies and emphasizes general education.

By successfully integrating liberal arts education and professional studies, students and families can be assured they are getting full value of the time and money spent on obtaining a college degree.

"With ample academic offerings in both the professional disciplines and the liberal arts, Samford University is in a strategic position to make contributions to and receive benefits from the Teagle Foundation grant by participating with the other NAC&U schools," said Samford Provost and Executive Vice President J. Bradley Creed.

In addition to Samford, NAC&U members participating in the project are Arcadia, Belmont, Hamline, Hampton, John Carroll, Pacific Lutheran, Scranton, Evansville, Redlands, Valparaiso and Widener universities, and Nazareth, Wagner, Westminster and The Sage colleges.

NAC&U is a national consortium of 22 selective, small to mid-size independent colleges and universities dedicated to the purposeful integration of liberal arts education, professional studies and civic engagement.

The Teagle Foundation, based in New York City, provides leadership for liberal arts education, mobilizing the intellectual and financial resources necessary for students to have access to a challenging and transformative liberal education.

Samford is a leading Christian university offering undergraduate programs grounded in the liberal arts with an array of nationally recognized graduate and professional schools. Founded in 1841, Samford is the 87th-oldest institution of higher learning in the United States. Samford enrolls 5,791 students from 49 states, Puerto Rico and 16 countries in its 10 academic schools: arts, arts and sciences, business, divinity, education, health professions, law, nursing, pharmacy and public health. Samford fields 17 athletic teams that compete in the tradition-rich Southern Conference and ranks 6th nationally for its Graduation Success Rate among all NCAA Division I schools.