Honors: USC named ‘Leadership Institution’ by Assoc. of American Colleges and Universities

National honor added to list that includes Time/Princeton Review ‘College of the Year 2000,’ and Newsweek/Kaplan ‘hot school’
From left, as part of their USC Joint Educational Project program Jeff Tschudi, Damien Le Veck, and Justin Littman work with second graders at Martin Luther King Elementary. They helped the class make models of "Mr. Earth" and taught sessions on such subjects as gravity, earthquakes and the continents as part of last fall's Geology 125, taught by Professor Douglas Hammond.

Photo by Irene Fertik
USC has received another national honor for its campus-wide innovations in undergraduate education.

The Association of American Colleges and Universities in Washington, D.C., has named USC a "Leadership Institution," recognizing it for providing stimulating educational experiences both inside and outside of the classroom.

"Being chosen a Leadership Institution is especially gratifying coming on the heels of being identified by the Time/Princeton Review as College of the Year 2000 and by the Newsweek/Kaplan Guide as a ‘hot’ school," said Joseph Hellige, vice provost for academic programs.

USC is among 16 colleges and universities to win the Leadership Institution designation. Others include Duke University, the University of Michigan and Colgate University. Each is invited to join the Great Expectations Consortium on Quality Education.

As part of the consortium, academic leaders from the colleges and universities will meet to share successful educational practices with the nation's educational community, Hellige said.

"It's an exciting time in higher education and particularly exciting to be part of the group that is charged with defining what it means to be an educated citizen of the modern world," he added.

The schools were selected from applications and campus visits. A total of 73 institutions applied for the designation.

The chosen universities and colleges emphasized a campus culture featuring new learning techniques, curriculum and organizational structure, said Andrea Leskes, vice president of AAC&U and director of Great Expectations.

The universities "demonstrated a strong commitment to liberal arts education relevant for our contemporary world," Leskes said. "Each offers innovative programs and systemic approaches to improve learning by all students."

The universities have linked the liberal arts and pre-professional study or offered students the opportunity to "learn by doing" through off-campus work in community projects or internships. In addition, the schools honored emphasize critical thinking, effective communication and contributing to a diverse society.

For nearly a decade, reinventing undergraduate education has been USC’s goal, Hellige said.

"We want to serve as a model for how students could be educated for a life of leadership in the 21st century," he said. "This has evolved by emphasizing double majors and academic minors to obtain mastery of intellectually distinctive areas.

"Our goal is to create new opportunities for student research and other forms of hands-on learning. Most important, we want to provide all students with a sense of the context in which we live our lives."