ALAMOSA — Lynn Pasquerella, president of the Association of American Colleges and Universities (AAC&U), conducted two days of workshops for Adams State University faculty and staff, August 17-18. Her presentations focused on Adams State’s role as a Hispanic Serving Institution (HSI), as well as on its development of the Adams Pathways.
The Adams Pathways Project is a campus-wide endeavor that outlines and implements an undergraduate curriculum and assessment plan based on the framework of inclusive excellence. The reformed curriculum will emphasize place-based education, which draws upon the resources of and contributes to the health and strength of the community – economically, socially, environmentally, educationally, and politically. The goals of Pathways are to improve student learning and increase student engagement, retention, and graduation rates.
Pasquerella has been president of the AAC&U since July 2016. With 1,400 member institutions, AAC&U is the leading national association concerned with the quality, vitality, and public standing of undergraduate liberal education. Pasquerella is a philosopher whose career has combined teaching and scholarship with local and global engagement. She has continuously demonstrated a deep and abiding commitment to ensuring that all students have access to excellence in liberal education, regardless of their socioeconomic background. She has served as provost of the University of Hartford and as president of Mount Holyoke College.
Pasquerella conducted workshops for Adams State’s Executive Team, Cabinet, Academic Council, Essential Learning Task Force, Curriculum Innovation Team, and Title V office. Her visit concluded with a presentation at the university’s all-campus meeting, held at the start of each academic year. She told that gathering, “At Adams State, you are doing an exemplary job of making liberal education and inclusive excellence the foundation of educational practice.”
She said three fundamental skills that will prepare students for success in the changing world are analysis, oral communication, and writing. “An unheralded and important aptitude is creative thinking, the ability to see or do what hasn’t yet been done. Higher education must prepare students for long-haul learning over their lifetime. It is not enough to impart skills for a given profession. They may have dozens of jobs. We need to instill such habits of mind as curiosity, problem solving, and above all, reading, in order to develop a stronger sense of self.” She said internships, co-curricular activities, mentoring, and long-term projects have lasting impacts on lives. “In our globally interdependent world, these high-impact practices (HIP) will help students address complex, unscripted questions to which we have no answers. These HIP’s have a more profound, positive effect on underserved students.”
In her comments at the all-campus meeting, Adams State President Beverlee J. McClure said, “The Pathways Project will align with the Adams Outcomes, which will improve the quality and clarity of the educational experience. This is in sync with higher education changes underway across the nation. The focus is to make our students successful. That is the reason we are here.”
The Adams Outcomes were based on recommendations from AAC&U and the Colorado Department of Education for realigning educational outcomes for the Twenty-First Century. They were developed through a shared governance process that had campus-wide participation. The outcomes specify the knowledge, skills, and abilities that Adams State students are expected to develop as a result of their overall experience with curricular, co-curricular, and extracurricular opportunities. The four overarching Adams Outcomes include Knowledge of Human Cultures and the Physical and Natural World; Intellectual and Practical Skills; Personal and Social Responsibility; and Integrative and Applied Learning.