The Council of Public Liberal Arts Colleges advances the aims of its member institutions and drives awareness of the value of high-quality, public liberal arts education in a student-centered, residential environment.
Established in 1987 and now consisting of 30 colleges and universities in 28 states and one Canadian province, COPLAC represents a distinguished sector in higher education. Some campuses have received designation from their state legislatures or public university systems as the state's public liberal arts college or the public honors college for the liberal arts. Others have carved out a less formal but no less visible role as such in their states or province.
COPLAC serves both external and internal constituencies. It communicates to state and federal policy makers the vital importance and benefits of providing students with comprehensive public higher education in the liberal arts and sciences. It collaborates with major national higher education organizations like the Association of American Colleges and Universities to advance the aims of liberal learning in a global society. And it partners with the Council on Undergraduate Research to advance student learning through a recognized high impact practice.
COPLAC enjoys an organizational and administrative structure that facilitates member collaborations, including multi-campus faculty and student research projects, professional development opportunities for faculty and professional staff, and enhanced information sharing through its interactive web portal. COPLAC has developed regional undergraduate research conferences and a web-based platform for outstanding scholarship at the undergraduate level. Thanks to generous support from the Teagle Foundation, COPLAC campuses have begun to share courses in Native American Studies in a distance hybrid format. Students who enroll at a COPLAC institution are now directly engaged in the wider mission of public liberal arts education, the best preparation for a meaningful life and professional career.
The Governing Board of COPLAC consists of the 30 Presidents/Chancellors or their designees. The Board elects a president of the organization for a two-year term and the full board meets on a semi-annual basis. The Board also elects a five-person Executive Committee whose members oversee the administrative work of the Director of COPLAC.
The COPLAC central office and staff are located on the campus of the University of North Carolina - Asheville. The staff works actively with member institutions to improve the quality of liberal arts and sciences education on each campus. For additional information or inquiries concerning membership, please contact Director Bill Spellman at (828) 350-4590 or Program Associate Claire Bailey at (828) 258-7879.