Current Topic:  Virtues of a Liberal Education

Frederick Crosson (1926-2009) was the Rev. John J. Cavanaugh Professor of Humanities in the Program of Liberal Studies at the University of Notre Dame (IN). His scholarship engaged a wide range of interests. Among his publications are essays on formal logic, rhetoric, information theory and phenomenology, religion and natural law, intentionality and atheism, and the concept of teaching in St. Augustine. His professional activities included 25 years with the Phi Beta Kappa Society as Senator (1982-2000), Vice-President (1994-1997) and President (1997-2000); a position on the Editorial Board of the American Journal of Jurisprudence (1989-98); and service as a consultant-evaluator for the North Central Association of Schools and Colleges (1970-98). Among his peers, colleagues, and the greater collegiate educational community, Crosson was known as a master teacher in the seminar method.

In 1997, Frederick Crosson was awarded the Charles E. Sheedy Award for Excellence in Teaching at the College of Arts and Sciences at the University of Notre Dame. His acceptance speech reflects on what constitutes liberal education, teaching by questions, and ‘speaking to the heart of the learner’. Excerpts from that speech are reproduced here as they appeared in the Chicago Tribune on October 30, 1997.

Frederick Crosson. "Virtues of a Liberal Education”

To submit a topic of interest and readings for Liberal Education Matters, contact the Executive Director at

Winter 2017 / 2018 News

AALE Announces Death of Board Member
Winter | 2017/2018

It is with great sadness that the American Academy for Liberal Education (AALE) announces the death of Board member John B. ‘Jack’ Tieder, Jr. who passed away on December 3, 2017 following a period of illness. Jack has served on the AALE Board since 2010. Most recently he was a member of the Finance Committee. Jack’s leadership, broad business experience, and dedication to liberal education and life-long-learning will be sorely missed by AALE and its members. Following is the Memoriam published by Watt, Tieder, Hoffar and Fitzgerald LLC, the law firm Jack founded and served as senior partner. 

John B. Tieder, Jr.
May 8, 1946 - December 3, 2017

We mourn the passing of our dear friend, mentor, founding partner and oracle of construction law, Jack Tieder, this past week. Jack opened the doors of the firm forty years ago and crafted the very foundation of our construction, international and government contracts practice. Under his guidance and example, the firm rose to prominence to become one of the elite firms in our area of practice both in the United States and throughout the world. His indefatigable spirit, intellectual curiosity, commitment to the profession and exuberant wanderlust advanced the development of construction law around the globe. Jack had an influential presence in every major construction-related legal organization from the American College of Construction Lawyers to the International Bar Association, the London Court of International Arbitration, the International Academy of Construction Lawyers and many more. Over the last four decades, he personally trained, tested and challenged scores of attorneys in our firm. He then would board a plane to lecture eager lawyers in Eastern Europe, Russia, China and the Middle East. He pursued this passion right up to the end of his life. Attorneys, clients, and consultants from around the world join us in sorrow. Many of you may receive our firm’s newsletter and are familiar with Jack’s frequent articles bringing to life exotic locations from his travels. He was a brilliant, demanding, learned, and creative attorney with a thirst for life and a sense of humor that shines through in his writings. These qualities also combined to make him one of the world’s most formidable opponents in any legal contest. In recent years, Jack gravitated towards serving on arbitration panels and dispute review boards on many large, complicated construction projects. Regardless of the outcome of those matters, his thoughtful, well-reasoned decisions typically were lauded by the participating parties. In sum, we and the world have lost one of the paragons of construction law. We can only remember his teachings, his discipline, his spirit and his exacting standards and then carry them forward into the firm’s fifth decade. Please join us throughout this coming year in celebrating Jack’s legacy and remembering how much he contributed to the practice of construction law, literally, everywhere.


Topic:  Liberal Education Under Siege (September 2014)

Over the last decade, as college costs have risen and federal expenditures on student financial aid have grown significantly, policy makers have become increasingly focused on quantitative outcome measures such as job placement and starting salaries as the primary proxy for educational quality and the justification for financial investment. These measures may, indeed, be appropriate for assessing some areas in vocational and technical programs, but they are not appropriate measures for assessing the quality and value of education generally. The ability to think, reason, write, speak a foreign language, understand the principles of government, and appreciate domestic as well as world history pay clear dividends in all aspects of life, including the workplace, but these dividends may not be easily quantified or even fully realized until years after the student graduates. A solid liberal arts education prepares one not for a particular job, but rather for any job requiring thoughtful discourse, strong interpersonal communication skills, and the ability as well as the desire to engage in lifetime learning.

In the following essays, AALE Board members reflect on the value of liberal education and the ‘dividends it pays in all aspects of life’:

Dominic A. Aquila. “General Culture and the Academy versus Liberal Education: What’s at Stake?” 

Diane Auer Jones. The Changing Role of Accreditation and the Changes proposed by USDE, Benefit or Menace?” 

Rodney K. Smith. The Rule of Law, Core Texts and Liberal Education

Winter 2014 / 2015 News

AALE renews membership with CIQG for second year
Winter 2014/2015

The American Academy for Liberal Education (AALE) has renewed its membership in the Council for Higher Education Accreditation (CHEA) International Quality Group (CIQG). Formed in September 2012, CIQG provides a forum for colleges and universities, accrediting organizations and higher education associations, businesses, governments, foundations and individuals to reflect on and exchange ideas concerning major issues relating to quality assurance in an international setting. Membership in CIQG reflects AALE’s commitment to its international members to remain current on topics particularly relevant to quality assurance of post-secondary general education within the international community.

As a CIQG member, AALE receives policy briefs and newsletters throughout the year which provide information on topics such as: public accountability, student learning, new modes of education delivery, international quality expectation, the role of government, academic freedom, non-institutional education and a single set of quality standards. An annual meeting, held during the CHEA Annual Conference in Washington, DC focuses on a current issue of relevance to all members. The topic chosen for this year’s annual meeting held January 27, 2015 was, Quality Assurance: Whose Responsibility?

Further information about CIQG is available at


Topic: An Alternate Rhetorical Idiom for Liberal Education (March 2015)


Christopher B. Nelson, president of St. John's College in Annapolis, Maryland, is a national spokesperson for the liberal arts. A founding member of the Annapolis Group, a consortium of over 120 of the nation's leading liberal arts colleges, Nelson has served on numerous boards, including the Council of Independent Colleges and the Maryland Independent Colleges and Universities Association. Currently he is a member of the Board of Directors of the National Association of Independent Colleges and Universities and the Aspen Wye Seminars. An active participant in the national conversation on higher education, many of Nelson’s opinion essays have appeared in The Washington Post and The Huffington Post. The current focus of his writing is the value of liberal education as an excellent grounding for career and professional development and, most important for an open-minded pursuit of lifelong learning. 

On February 3, 2015, Nelson was presented the 29th Annual Henry Paley Memorial Award by the National Association of Independent Colleges and Universities (NAICU). The award recognizes individuals who have demonstrated unfailing service to the students and faculty associated with independent higher education and a commitment to advance educational opportunity in the United States. Nelson’s comments on education and learning, delivered on the occasion of the award, follow. 

Christopher B. Nelson. “Remarks Upon Receiving the Henry Paley Memorial Award


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