AAC&U Selects SHU for National Initiative

News Story: April 30, 2007
From left, Sacred Heart University’s Provost, Dr. Thomas V. Forget; Dr. Caryn McTighe Musil, senior vice president at The Association of American Colleges and Universities; SHU President Dr. Anthony J. Cernera; and Dr. Michelle Loris, associate dean of SHU’s College of Arts and Sciences

The Association of American Colleges and Universities (AAC&U) announced today that Sacred Heart University (SHU) is one of 23 institutions chosen to participate in the national initiative, Core Commitments: Educating Students for Personal and Social Responsibility. The initiative seeks to embed personal and social responsibility objectives pervasively across the institution as key educational outcomes for students and measure the impact of campus efforts to foster such learning.  

“Sacred Heart University is honored to be included in the Core Commitments initiative,” said President Anthony J. Cernera, Ph.D. “Developing students’ sense of responsibility – to themselves and to society – is an integral part of a college education. Cultivating students’ abilities to make responsible decisions, professionally, personally, and socially will serve them well today and in the future.” 

In inviting SHU to join the Core Commitments Leadership Consortium, AAC&U considered the University’s work already accomplished on its core curriculum, especially the common core: The Human Journey, and its Freshman Mentor Program, as well as its future plans to deepen this commitment. SHU will create campus-specific plans to implement one of the key recommendations articulated in AAC&U’s recent report from its campaign, Liberal Education and America’s Promise – to foster civic, intercultural, and ethical learning as part of a comprehensive liberal education. The report can be read online in full at www.aacu.org/leap.   

According to Dr. Michelle Loris, associate dean of the College of Arts and Sciences and chair of the University’s Core Committee, “SHU is absolutely delighted and honored to be among the 23 institutions chosen by AAC&U to participate in this national Core Commitments Leadership Consortium. This project will enhance and deepen our work on the new core curriculum, particularly our common core, The Human Journey.”

Project Director Dr. Caryn McTighe Musil, senior vice president at AAC&U, enumerated the five key dimensions of personal and social responsibility that form the core of this initiative and that will focus the work on campuses:

  1. 1. Striving for excellence: developing a strong work ethic and consciously doing one’s very best in all aspects of college;
  2. 2. Cultivating personal and academic integrity: recognizing and acting on a sense of honor ranging from honesty in relationships to principled engagement with a formal academic honors code;
  3. 3. Contributing to a larger community: recognizing and acting on one’s responsibility to the educational community (classroom, campus life), the local community, and the wider society, both national and global;
  4. Taking seriously the perspectives of others: recognizing and acting on the obligation to inform one’s own judgment; engaging diverse and competing perspectives as a resource for learning, for citizenship, and for work;
  5. Developing competence in ethical and moral reasoning: developing ethical and moral reasoning in ways that incorporate the other four responsibilities; using such reasoning in learning and in life. 

As part of the initiative, all 23 campuses participating in Core Commitments Leadership Consortium will administer students, faculty, student affairs administrators, and academic administrators. The inventory is designed to identify where different groups on campus see opportunities exist to foster learning about personal and social responsibility and to serve as a catalyst for dialogues across the institution about ways to make such learning more pervasive. 

Eventually the Leadership Consortium members will also be assessing whether students have acquired new capabilities in the five dimensions.  Future events planned for the initiative include institutes, workshops, and campus dialogues. Throughout the initiative, AAC&U will also organize a series of open symposiums where the higher education community at large can explore how to promote ethical responsibilities to self and others. 

Core Commitments: Educating Students for Personal and Social Responsibility is supported by a generous grant from the John Templeton Foundation.