Press Releases | General Education

ACTA Recognizes Exceptional Liberal Arts Programs

September 11, 2019 by ACTA

Washington, DC – The American Council of Trustees and Alumni (ACTA) has recognized five academic honors programs as the inaugural class of “Hidden Gems.” Hidden Gems deserve the attention of students who are seeking an outstanding liberal education, and can be found at affordable public and private colleges nationwide.

The Ashbrook Scholar Program at Ashland University, the Honors College at Azusa Pacific University, the Honors College at Belmont Abbey College, the William Penn Honors Program at George Fox University, and the George M. Luckey, Jr. Academic Honors Program at Morehead State University make up the inaugural class. Each program requires students to complete a rigorous curriculum designed to foster wide-ranging inquiry on questions of perennial human concern, while building a community of students who are academically-engaged inside and outside of the classroom. 

“ACTA’s ‘Hidden Gems’ initiative seeks to help families identify programs led by distinguished faculty that cultivate a truly well-educated person: ready for informed citizenship, a rewarding career, and a meaningful life,” said ACTA President Michael Poliakoff. “Unfortunately, too many students wander through their college years, sometimes at highly prestigious institutions, without the structure and mentorship that shapes intellect and character. By raising public awareness of excellent ‘Hidden Gems’ programs, ACTA hopes more students will benefit from an education of great and enduring value.”

Well-designed liberal arts curricula teach the abilities that employers say they prize above all, including a capacity for critical analysis, excellent oral communication skills, the ability to express complicated ideas in elegant and precise prose, and intercultural fluency. Whether students will develop these skills in addition to a major field of study is hard to assess in advance, however, and is often overlooked. Yet, this may be the most important question that prospective students can ask during the college selection process.

ACTA’s new “Hidden Gems” initiative dovetails with our annual What Will They Learn? report, which assesses general education requirements at colleges and universities across the country. The “Hidden Gems” list is intended to highlight colleges which offer exemplary liberal arts curricula through specialized or selective programs.

MEDIA CONTACT: Connor Murnane


PHONE: (202) 798-5450


Launched in 1995, we are the only organization that works with alumni, donors, trustees, and education leaders across the United States to support liberal arts education, uphold high academic standards, safeguard the free exchange of ideas on campus, and ensure that the next generation receives an intellectually rich, high-quality college education at an affordable price.

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