| Annual Reports

2023 Annual Report

April 5, 2024 Download PDF
Left to Right: ACTA President Michael Poliakoff with Professors Allen C. Guelzo, Alan C. Kors, Robert P. George, and C. Bradley Thompson

The American Council of Trustees and Alumni is an independent, nonprofit organization committed to promoting academic freedom, excellence, and accountability at America’s colleges and universities. Founded in 1995, ACTA works with alumni, trustees, and education leaders across the country 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 education at an affordable price.

This report highlights our many accomplishments in the past year.

We are enormously grateful to those whose generosity has made this work possible. The hour is late for all that we must remedy, but we have our minds and hearts in this crucial campaign. Please read on about our work in 2023, and please stay with us as we address the challenges ahead.

—Michael B. Poliakoff, President & CEO

Upon accepting ACTA’s 18th annual Philip Merrill Award, Professor Alan Charles Kors admonished us that the struggle to reclaim and protect the “liberty and legal equality that define us as human beings with dignity, capable of morals” is the defining battle of our times, and the epicenter is on the American campus. Although the proponents of intellectual repression are ascendant on many campuses across the country, they have not won: The fight is on. ACTA is leading the campaign to take our campus culture back. In response to our influential media campaigns and persistent outreach, some of the highest profile institutions in the country have disbanded their pernicious bias response apparatus and adopted new guiding principles to safeguard free expression and academic freedom. ACTA ensures that these policies are not just symbolic “parchment barriers.” At the same time, our College Debates and Discourse Alliance is sparking deep-seated change by empowering students and faculty to resist coercive political correctness, practice civil discourse, and appreciate true intellectual diversity. Thus, we are advancing both top-down and grassroots initiatives to make the revival of campus free speech a durable reality.

In 2023, ACTA set in motion an ambitious, multi-pronged effort to reverse the civic literacy crisis that is plaguing our campuses and our country. As we observed the outstanding work of Arizona State University’s School of Civic and Economic Thought and Leadership, we promoted the creation of the Institute of American Civics at the University of Tennessee–Knoxville, then advised on the formation of the School of Civic Life and Leadership at the University of North Carolina (UNC)–Chapel Hill, and encouraged the birth of five centers devoted to civic education in Ohio. Our new Hillen Fellow in American History & Civic Education is currently assembling a national commission aimed at restoring the American history requirement at all colleges and universities. We also completed an ambitious overhaul of our What Will They Learn?® college curriculum ratings that makes it easier than ever for families and students to select schools with a demonstrated commitment to academic excellence.

To restore confidence in higher education, colleges and universities need clear policies that promote free expression, rigorous academic standards, and responsible spending. They also need informed trustees who can put these policies into action. In 2023, ACTA traveled across the country, providing trustees with training and resources to balance the budget, set competitive graduation requirements, and protect free inquiry. We also helped state and federal policymakers craft legislation to ensure that universities deliver the outstanding education Americans deserve.


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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