The Three Pillars of ACTA

ACTA works with trustees, alumni, policymakers, and students & parents to promote academic excellence, academic freedom, and accountability.


A traditional liberal arts education, grounded in the foundational arts and sciences, provides the skills and knowledge a free citizen requires. Today, the need for such preparation has never been greater. ACTA believes that the mission of higher education is to prepare students for the challenges of career and community through such an education. For over a decade, ACTA has alerted the public to the rising employer dissatisfaction with college graduates, as well as the decline in civic competency and informed discourse in the public square, that result from an overall deterioration of core curricula in the liberal arts. Therefore, we work with colleges and universities to strengthen liberal arts education as quintessential to success in a dynamic, global economy and to an understanding of the rights and responsibilities of citizenship in our representative democracy.


ACTA believes that rational debate and the free exchange of ideas are the lifeblood of a vibrant democracy and that the college campus must serve as a training ground and open forum where students, professors, and the community can come together across ideological divides in the pursuit of truth and social progress. However, more and more colleges and universities have allowed an erosion of civil discourse and the suppression of free speech, jeopardizing the future of our free society. Through our Free to Teach, Free to Learn campaign, ACTA provides support to those who work to protect free speech on campus. We help trustees ensure that institutional policy encourages freedom of expression. We guide alumni to locate and support academic programs that take intellectual freedom seriously, policymakers to pass laws protecting free speech, and students to choose colleges that respect their right to express themselves. We arm higher education stakeholders with the knowledge and resources they need to renew the campus culture, so that all professors and all students, of any background or ideology, are free to teach and free to learn.


ACTA believes that lay governance has long been one of the greatest strengths of American higher education and that engaged boards are essential for effective governance. The board of trustees can be the engine that propels universities forward, and a purposeful board is often the difference between an institution that veers off the track and one that emerges as a gold standard for excellence and innovation. Through our Governance for a New Era® campaign, ACTA provides a blueprint for thoughtful and engaged stewardship for the next quarter century. We work to ensure that trustees and policymakers serve as guardians of both the financial and academic health of their institutions. America’s students deserve a college education that is both excellent and affordable. ACTA offers the resources and guidance that help colleges and universities sustain this all-important balance.


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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