AALE Implements Virtual Site Visits

In light of the COVID-19 interruption to the delivery of on-site education and corresponding educational practices in and outside of the US, the American Academy for Liberal Education (AALE) has adopted a temporary policy pertaining to site visits required for initial accreditation, renewal of accreditation and interim reporting.  

Effective August 1, 2020 through December 31, 2021 virtual site visits are being conducted on a case-by-case basis. The visits are designed to be interactive, and consist of both on-line video sessions and conference calls. Within a reasonable amount of time after a virtual site visit, an on-site visit is required to review facilities. 

AALE plans to evaluate the virtual site visit experience at the end of 2021 to determine if positive aspects of the virtual process can be incorporated into the structure of the traditional on-site visit required for accreditation.

AALE hosts virtual meeting of Charter Associate Members

On October 27, 2020 the American Academy for Liberal Education (AALE) hosted a virtual first meeting of the newly formed post-secondary Charter Associate Membership group. The  group engaged in an open discussion of the challenges liberal arts programs are facing, particularly now in light of COVID-19;  general concerns regarding the future of college enrollments and attracting students to member programs; and strategies that are working for programs, and how to make a strong case for genuine liberal education.  As introductory reading for the discussion, members were given a recent essay, “The Task of the Liberal Arts in Troubled Times” by Lorraine Pangle. Pangle is Co-Director of the Thomas Jefferson Center for the Study of Core Texts and Ideas at the University of Texas-Austin, a Charter Associate Member of AALE.  A summary of the meeting is being prepared and will be available to all Charter Associate Members.   

AALE Board establishes Membership Committee

The AALE Board of Trustees has established a new Membership Committee.  The 2020-21 Committee consists of Sara Henary as Chair and members Josh Hochschild and Rene Paddags. The Committee will continue to serve the new post-secondary Charter Associate Membership group and oversee its development. They are also charged with examining the relevancy of AALE Affiliate Membership policy; exploring ways of establishing and publically recognizing relationships with non-profit organizations and college/university study/research centers whose activities and services are consonant with AALE’s commitment to support and advance genuine liberal education; and examining possible non-accredited membership options for K-12 schools.  The Committee announced that it will be hosting a virtual meeting of the Charter Associate members in late October.

AALE Elects New Board and Council Members

The American Academy for Liberal Education (AALE) held annual elections on June 9, 2020. Joining the Board is Ted Eismeier, Vice President at Whiteboard Advisors (DC), and elected to serve on the Council of Scholars is Lee Skallerup Bessette.

Mr. Ted Eisemeier is Vice President and senior leader in the education communications practice at Whiteboard Advisors where his responsibilities include advising education technology companies, social impact investors, and non-profit organizations on national media and communications strategy.  Prior to joining Whiteboard Advisors, he was Director of Communications and External Affairs at Higher Learning Advocates, a nonprofit advocacy organization working to advance federal policy solutions to respond to the country’s shifting college student demographics.  Currently he serves as a trustee of Harmony DC Public Charter School and a board member of Community Tax Aid (DC). Ted received his B.A. in History from Kenyon College (OH).  

Ms. Lee Skallerup Bessette is a Learning Design Specialist at the Center for New Designs in Learning and Scholarship at Georgetown University, where she works on the design and development of online courses.  She is the author of Found in Translation: The Journey of Anne Hébert’s Poetry in(to) English. Lee has written for Inside Higher Ed under College Ready Writing.  She has taught at Morehead University, University of Mary Washington, and is an on-line instructor at Ashland University teaching The Language and Culture of Quebec, and Composition in Ashland’s Prisons Outreach Program.  Lee received her Ph.D. from the University of Alberta (Canada) and her M.A. and B.A. from the Université de Sherbrooke (Canada).

AALE Releases COVID-19 Statement

The mission of the American Academy for Liberal Education (AALE) is to promote excellence in liberal education by providing recognition of schools and programs that maintain the highest standards of liberal arts learning. AALE achieves its mission by articulating standards designed to support excellence in liberal arts learning and teaching, offering rigorous peer-review accreditation, and fostering dialogue on the ends and means of quality liberal arts education.

AALE recognizes that as a result of COVID-19, accredited member schools and programs have been required to close their facilities in response to mandated closure orders issued by state and national authority. Any operations allowed on-site have been severely limited by national CDC guidelines. Faced with these extraordinary challenges, many member schools and programs have continued to serve their students by delivering classroom instruction on-line.

AALE’s policy regarding on-line instruction falls under Standard 3. Curriculum, and states the following:
AALE PK-12 School Standards
Standard 3. Curriculum
3.g The school maintains a policy on the use of off-site or distance education classes that meet graduation requirements that is consistent with its learning objectives.
AALE Program Standards (post-secondary)
Standard 3. Curriculum
3.g The program maintains a policy on the use of distance education and correspondence education courses to meet program requirements that is consistent with its learning objectives and meets all requirements of the institution’s policy on distance education and correspondence education at which the program is offered.

Permission to use on-line technology to provide instruction and to facilitate opportunities for student learning during COVID-19 conditions has been granted by state authorizers of PK-12 education to schools on a temporary basis, and by the US Department of Education for institutions of higher learning. AALE acknowledges this permission, and is not requiring a school or program to file a substantive change report to previous policy submitted for review under Standard 3, assuming that the changes made were temporary and enacted solely to address continuation of instruction during a COVID-19 mandated closure.

AALE will be requiring all accredited member schools and programs to submit, a) narrative summary describing measures taken to continue instruction during COVID-19 closure that began on or after March 1, 2020, and b) any plans designed to accommodate future mandated closure for any period of time during the academic year 2020-2021.

Board Appoints Member Liaisons

AALE Board members Sara Henary and Josh Hochschild are now serving as the official Board liaisons for the new charter Associate Membership group. Sara is Assistant Professor of Political Science at Missouri State University in Springfield, MO. Before being elected to the Board in 2019, Sara served one year on the AALE Council of Scholars. Josh Hochschild is Professor of Philosophy at Mount St. Mary’s University in Emmitsburg, MD. He was elected to the Board in 2017, and currently serves on the Executive Committee. Both Sara and Josh came to AALE with a strong interest in developing an active post-secondary membership base that would advocate for genuine liberal education. Their primary responsibility is to assist the new Associate members with establishing an agenda of action and growing the Associate membership base. Both Sara and Josh can be contacted at: aaleinfo@aale.org Attn: Associate liaisons.

AALE Welcomes New Post-Secondary Members

The American Academy for Liberal Education (AALE) is pleased to introduce the new charter Associate Members who have joined AALE’s efforts to strengthen the value and public awareness of genuine liberal education.

Each program distinctly models AALE standards for excellence in liberal education, and 

  • possesses a mission statement emphasizing the importance of liberal education;
  • fosters learning objectives encouraging an ability to reason and communicate effectively and an inclination to inquire;
  • offers a curriculum designed to acquaint students in rigorous and substantial ways with broad and integrated knowledge of the liberal arts;
  • promotes the importance of teaching and the use of instructional practices suitable to liberal education. 

If you are a post-secondary program and would like to join the efforts of our charter Associate members in advocating for and promoting excellence in liberal education, an application for Associate membership is available by contacting AALE staff at aaleinfo@aale.org.