The honor: an “A” rating from the American Council of Trustees and Alumni for an outstanding general education program—a prestigious recognition reserved for a mere 21 colleges and universities in the nation in 2012.
The American Council of Trustees and Alumni (ACTA) is a non-profit organizationcommitted to academic freedom, excellence and accountability at America’s colleges and universities. Launched in 1995, the ACTA is the only organization that works with alumni, donors, trustees and education leaders across the country to support liberal arts education and to uphold high academic standards.
The ACTA’s “A” rating is associated with its “What Will They Learn?” project, designed to encourage colleges and universities to strengthen their core curricular requirements in order to provide students with a strong foundation of skills and knowledge. “What Will They Learn?” achieves that goal by shining a light on core requirements and making the information easily available to college-bound students, parents, high school guidance counselors, and higher education policymakers.
“Bluefield’s A-rated core curriculum will give its college graduates a competitive edge,” said Anne Neal, president of the ACTA. “Students in other states and in other schools can graduate with a patchwork of narrow and often trendy courses outside of their majors. Bluefield’s graduates will have the advantage of a coherent and cohesive general education requirement—precisely the broad exposure needed for productive workers, informed citizens and lifelong learners.”
As part of its “What Will They Learn?” initiative, the ACTA surveyed nearly 1,100 public four-year liberal arts institutions, along with private faith-based and non-faith-based colleges to evaluate whether they require seven key subjects in their general education curriculum: English composition, literature, intermediate-level foreign language, United States government or history, economics, mathematics, and science.
Only two percent of the 1,070 institutions reviewed—among them Baylor University, the United States Air Force Academy, Pepperdine University, the University of Dallas, the United States Coast Guard Academy and other highly selective schools—earned the “A” rating, including Bluefield College.
“The campus community is honored and delighted to receive this special recognition by ACTA for the exemplary general education core our students receive in preparing them for productive and meaningful lives,” said BC President David Olive. “We are humbled in being recognized for this extraordinary achievement.”
Bluefield earned the “A” rating for meeting six of the seven standards established in the ACTA’s “What Will They Learn?” project. The college was able to meet the six standards as a result of adding requirements in its general education core in United States history and economics. Only two institutions in Virginia currently require a basic course in American history, and less than five percent of the institutions reviewed by the ACTA required an economics course.
BC was able just recently to add the economics course to its general education core and consequently earn the “A” rating with the ACTA as a direct result of the generosity of the Beazley Foundation of Portsmouth, Virginia, which provided a grant to assist in the hiring of an economics professor to teach in BC’s general education program.
“My colleagues and I stand in deep admiration of the work that Bluefield’s faculty and administration have so speedily accomplished to strengthen the general education program,” said Dr. Michael B. Poliakoff, vice president of policy for the American Council of Trustees and Alumni. “Bluefield College emerges as one of only 22 colleges and universities in the nation that earn an ‘A,’ the highest rating in the ACTA’s ‘What Will They Learn?’ project.”
The Beazley Foundation was established in 1948 by Frederick C. Beazley, a self-made millionaire who pulled himself out of poverty to provide students with the higher education he never had. With funds from Beazley, his wife Marie, andtheir son Fred, Jr., the Foundation has distributed substantial grants over the years to an array of organizations and programs serving the community, youth and students of Virginia.
“We are grateful for the generosity of the Beazley Foundation in assisting the college with hiring an economics professor to teach macroeconomics in the general education program, and this new position also provides us with greater depth in the area of economics within our business program,” said Dr. Olive. “I appreciate the importance the foundation’s board members have given to improving the core curriculum at colleges and universities in Virginia, such as they have here at Bluefield.”
In addition to instruction in the six key courses recognized by the ACTA, Bluefield College’s general education program is designed to cultivate a Christian academic community where students are invited to pursue “the Good, the True, and the Beautiful.” Through courses and other educational activities in the program, students learn to think critically, communicate effectively, and act creatively. The program also encourages lifelong behaviors that stimulate physical and emotional well-being and exposes students to the sciences and the liberal arts, quantitative reasoning, and modern technology.
“Bluefield College has dedicated itself to seeing that students receive a fundamental education and a foundation necessary for success,” said Judge Richard Bray, president of the Beazley Foundation. “We’re proud of the way in which Dr. Olive and the extraordinary faculty at Bluefield College have accepted the challenge to develop such an outstanding core curriculum.”