Trustees | About ACTA

Gazette Minute Interviews: Anne Neal

GREENTREE GAZETTE   |  September 1, 2007

What is your background?

I attended Harvard where I earned a bachelor’s degree in American History and Literature and a law degree. My daughter is presently a sophomore there, and she wants to be a playwright or a comedian. Much of my professional life as an attorney and a non-profit executive has been devoted to Constitutional and First Amendment issues. I’ve been employed at ACTA since its launch in 1995.

Who are your organization’s members, and what is your mission on their behalf?

We work to empower college alumni and trustees on issues of academic freedom, academic excellence, and accountability, and we communicate regularly with more than 12,000 individuals on these matters. Our funds come from individuals and foundations. We inform trustees on effective governance practices; communicate with state and national policymakers on higher education issues; and work with alumni to help them be sources of constructive input for their alma maters.

Is U.S. higher education doing well at helping its scholars be good teachers?

When ACTA was launched in 1995, we were concerned that higher education was losing its traditional focus on teaching and educating for citizenship. In the intervening years we have regularly reported on higher education curricula that reflect more the desires of the professors than the needs of students. One such report is “Losing America’s Memory,” a study that shows students can graduate from 100 percent of the top colleges without a single course in American history.

Are good things happening in higher education?

Most definitely. And when that happens, we are pleased to highlight those institutions doing good things for their students. We’ve produced such books as Becoming an Educated Person, which showcased core curricula implemented at numerous U.S. campuses.

What is the status of academic freedom on campus?

ACTA has documented that students are regrettably complaining that many professors are preaching rather than teaching in the classroom. While academics have the freedom to speak their minds, discourse in the classroom should be governed by scholarly standards. A student’s right to learn should include exposure to multiple points of view.

What are your observations on sticker shock and buyer’s remorse among higher education’s customers?

The most important question is: What are people getting for their money? The recent poll by Public Agenda shows that Americans are increasingly concerned that they aren’t getting their money’s worth.


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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