America is a nation that faces and overcomes problems, and COVID-19 will be no exception. It will not be easy for colleges and universities: Revenues have dropped sharply, and faculty have had to adapt courses suddenly to an online format. But we will meet the challenge. It is ACTA’s belief that our schools can emerge better, stronger, and more effective than ever before, and we are committed to helping them do just that.

What We’re Doing

ACTA has enlisted the support of the nation’s most distinguished educators and policymakers to help institutions reorder their priorities and develop urgently needed efficiencies. Through an accelerated podcast program, we have disseminated guidance from the founder of the Princeton Review John Katzman, former senator and president of the University of Colorado, Hank Brown, George Washington University President Emeritus Stephen Joel Trachtenberg, and Kaplan University Partners President Brandon Busteed, among other eminent scholars and leaders. We have engaged our network of 23,000 trustees, university presidents, and lawmakers through our growing repository of reports, a new webinar series, recently launched eNewsletters, primers, and personalized outreach.

A Blueprint for Bold Action

Prioritizing Curricular Quality

The COVID-19 crisis demands an overdue reckoning with longstanding problems and weaknesses of U.S. colleges and universities. For years, ACTA has voiced concern that deteriorating academic standards and the erosion of the core curriculum are leaving graduates underprepared for the workforce and shaking public confidence in higher education. With the public now laser-focused on the return on investment of a baccalaureate degree, universities no longer have money to waste on frivolous programs and activities. Watch for new web features including spotlights on Oases of Excellence academic programs, guidance for educators, and expanded institutional results pages when What Will They Learn? 2020-21, a survey of core requirements at over 1,100 institutions, launches in mid-September.

Adapting to a Remote Environment

The pandemic is presenting new challenges for faculty and instructional design specialists—the frontline educators struggling to deliver high-quality courses and to establish a free and open marketplace of ideas in a virtual space. ACTA is regularly publishing new reports, podcasts, think pieces, and primers from higher education experts and experienced educators that are designed to help faculty and college leaders confront this uncertain landscape. Watch for ACTA’s newest report, Building a Culture of Free Expression in the Online Classroom, along with a companion essay by Nadine Strossen, former president of the American Civil Liberties Union and John Marshall Harlan II Professor of Law, Emerita at New York Law School.

Controlling Costs

ACTA has long warned that out-of-control administrative spending, irresponsible capital investments, and rising athletics subsidies are unsustainable. The combination of declining enrollment, vanishing athletics, and medical center revenue, and a slowing rate of charitable contributions will push some institutions to insolvency. ACTA’s web and print resources, including our newly updated, are important tools for trustees struggling to make sense of opaque institutional budgets and to identify resource reallocation strategies that safeguard the academic-instructional mission of the university. ACTA continues to cover the issues that affect colleges and universities nationwide: In our podcast interview with 2019 Pulitzer Prize finalist and Washington Post sportswriter Sally Jenkins, we assess how the global pandemic has revealed the ways in which overspending on college sports has left institutions in a precarious financial position.

ACTA Addresses COVID-19's Impact on Higher Ed


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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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