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CSUF Hosts Association of American Colleges and Universities Meeting

July 10, 2014

audience sitting in a lecture hall

Members of the Association of American Colleges and Universities listen as Cal State Fullerton President Mildred García gives the opening address to the organization's five-day conference.

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President Mildred García welcomed faculty members and administrators from across the nation at the opening of a five-day conference, "Faculty Leadership for the 21st Century," sponsored by the Association of American Colleges and Universities.

"Hallmarks for a high-quality college education include experiences in and out of the classroom," García said in her opening remarks. "This combination helps students develop the habit of intellectual inquiry, prepare for challenging professions, strengthen their relationships to their communities and contribute productively to society."

As the 10th largest employer in Orange County, Cal State Fullerton prepares students for career exploration through a variety of means including internships, study abroad opportunities, service learning and volunteerism, and intentional curricular designs, she said. At Cal State Fullerton, four pathways are being launched in this fall as part of the GE (general education) Pathways pilot for students. The university has a team attending this week's institute, and focusing on the LEAP (Liberal Education and America's Promise) Initiative, a national advocacy, campus action and research initiative that champions the importance of a 21st-century liberal education.

The goal of LEAP is to develop essential learning outcomes, high-impact educational practices, authentic assessments and inclusive excellence, García explained. At CSUF, students may focus on such areas as globalization; sustainability; power and politics; and food, health and well-being.

The "pathways" are structured so that during their first years, students focus on the development of intellectual skills and knowledge. At the mid-point, they will engage in high-impact practices — research, service, internships, etc. — that will involve ethical, personal and career reflection. They will then move on to thematic courses where they focus on specific topics, such as globalization.

"We have hoped for an initial enrollment of 400 students in these programs," García said. "Instead, we have 450 first-year students."

Examples of some of high-impact practices that García mentioned in her remarks include the After School Education and Safety program, where CSUF students work with children in local after-school programs; the University's Cal State D.C. program, where students spend a summer or semester working and studying in the nation's capital; travel abroad opportunities; and an interdisciplinary program offered through the colleges of Communications and Humanities and Social Sciences that focuses on preparing students for jobs in Hispanic media.

The opening plenary not only set the context with a discussion of integrative learning as a hallmark of liberal education but also focused on the structures needed to support faculty and ensure that all students learn at high levels.

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