AAC&U Panels Sponsored by COPLAC

Washington, D.C., 2016

Thursday January 21, 10:30-11:45

Hybrid Course Sharing in Native American Studies: A Consortial Approach

Five member campuses of the Council of Public Liberal Arts Colleges are piloting a hybrid learning project to share undergraduate courses in Native American Studies. The goal of the project, supported by a grant from the Teagle Foundation, is to build a multi-campus community of faculty expertise, share undergraduate courses that expand curricular options on each campus, and offer students—many of whom are Native American—the opportunity to study under faculty from other public liberal arts institutions. Two hybrid models are being developed. The first includes the pairing of shared online courses with an “on the ground” campus mentor who provides advising and support, while the second combines a spring semester online seminar with a distinctive summer field experience in Native American Studies, led in person by the online instructors and hosted by one of the participating campuses

Presenters: Becca Gercken, Associate Professor of English, University of Minnesota Morris; Roxanne Harde, Professor of English, University of Alberta, Augustana Campus; Sarah Baires, Assistant Professor of Anthropology, Eastern Connecticut State University

Washington, D.C., 2015

Thursday January 22, 3:15-4:15

Century America: A Multi-Campus Digital History Collaboration

The Council of Public Liberal Arts Colleges (COPLAC) recently completed a semester-long digital liberal arts seminar project involving 12 undergraduates and two faculty mentors from ten of our member campuses. The results of this multi-campus collaborative project, a digital portrait of campus and local community life during World War I (to mark the centenary of the outbreak of the War) can be found at centuryamerica.org

Funded by the Teagle Foundation, the project involved distance mentoring of undergraduate researchers using Blue Jeans videoconferencing technology, online office hours, student blogs, and traditional email. Students worked with special collections librarians to digitize primary source materials for the project website, created interactive maps and timelines, incorporated video and audio clips, mentored and advised one another, and offered constructive criticism through blog comments and via Twitter during and after weekly seminar sessions. In addition to the rich course content, this project equipped students with valuable digital technology skills that will serve them throughout their professional careers.

Washington, DC 2014

Thursday, January 23, 2014, 10:30-11:45

Distance Mentored Undergraduate Research: Expanding Student Access to Faculty Expertise

The Council of Public Liberal Arts Colleges, with generous support from the Teagle Foundation, is engaged in a pilot project to expand undergraduate research opportunities though distance mentoring. The project leverages the strength of the 27-campus consortium to offer students the range of faculty expertise more commonly associated with a large research university. In addition to testing the viability of distance mentored undergraduate research and assessing its impact on student learning, COPLAC seeks to explore new ways of defining credit-bearing courses, the shape of faculty work in an increasingly constrained fiscal environment at public liberal arts institution, and the larger faculty rewards system.

Moderator: Steve Greenlaw, Professor of Economics, University of Mary Washington

Presenters: Sumi Colligan, Professor of Sociology, Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts; Jay Self, Chair, Department of Communication, Truman State University; Chelsea Beresford, Undergraduate Student (History), University of North Carolina Asheville

Friday, January 24, 2014, 4:15-5:30

Roads Taken: The Professorial Life, Scholarship in Place, and the Public Good

Public liberal arts colleges are home to professors who, sometimes to their own surprise, find themselves teaching on campuses unlike the large, research-intensive universities at which they earned their PhDs. Smaller public institutions require faculty members to make multiple adaptations: to undergraduate teaching, to campus service and governance and, increasingly, to the public mission that connects colleges to the well-being of regional commitments. Panel members will discuss these adaptations and the implications for faculty work and identity in challenging times.

Moderator: Roger Epp, Professor, Department of Political Science, University of Alberta

Presenters: Therese Seibert, Professor of Sociology and Director, Community Research Center, Keene State College; Janet Schrunk Ericksen, Associate Professor of English, University of Minnesota-Morris; Joel Sipress, Professor of History, University of Wisconsin-Superior

Atlanta 2013

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

12:30-4:00 Presidents/Chancellors lunch and working session on COPLAC branding/communications

4:00-5:15 COPLAC business meeting

5:30-6:30 Reception hosted by President Steve Dorman (Georgia College)

Thursday, January 24, 2013

7:15-8:30 Provosts/VPAA breakfast meeting

1:30-2:30 COPLAC Session

“Online Learning at Public Liberal Arts Colleges: Access, Quality and Assessment”

Online courses and degree programs for undergraduates in the public liberal arts sector present multiple challenges and opportunities. How do faculty members and administrators create policies regarding online learning that best reflect campus culture and assure quality learning outcomes? What level of training and ongoing support is appropriate for faculty members who are new to online instruction? Is the student’s online learning experience qualitatively different at a public liberal arts institution? The session will address issues surrounding the place of online learning and the broader effort to expand access to a liberal arts education in the public sector.

Moderator: Beth Barnett, Provost and Vice-President for Academic Affairs, Ramapo College of New Jersey


  1. Brian Hoyt, Professor of Psychology, University of Virginia’s College at Wise
    “A Peer Reviewed Guide for Online Courses”
  2. Ray Schroeder, Associate Vice-Chancellor and Director of the Center for Online Learning, University of Illinois-Springfield
    “Access, Quality and Collaboration through Online Learning”
  3. George Finkle, Online Learning Services Coordinator, Department of Instructional Technology, Henderson State University
    “The Perplexing Perils of Producing the Perfect Policy”

6:00-8:30 Teagle Steering Committee Dinner Meeting

Friday January 25, 2013

2:45-4:00 COPLAC Session

“Quality Enhancement in an Age of Declining Resources: Case Studies from the Public Liberal Arts Sector”

The fiscal challenges facing public institutions of higher education, together with calls to improve completion rates while maintaining quality, have led many campuses to design new approaches to quality enhancement. Colleges and universities in the public liberal arts sector are often the smallest campuses in their respective state systems, but small to moderate size can be an advantage when building consensus around new initiatives to enhance student learning and success. The session will offer examples and suggest strategies for improving student learning in an era of fiscal constraint.

Moderator: Christopher Dahl, President, State University of New York, College at Geneseo


  1. Mary Cullinan, President, Southern Oregon University
  2. Les Purce, President, The Evergreen State College
  3. Anne Ponder, Chancellor, University of North Carolina Asheville
  4. Michael Benson, President, Southern Utah University

Washington, DC

January 25-28, 2012
COPLAC participated in two sessions at the 2012 annual meeting of AAC&U:

Expanding Undergraduate Research Opportunities at the Consortium Level: Opportunities and Challenges in the Public Liberal Arts Sector

January 26, 2012 4:15–5:45 PM

Since 2009 the 27-member institutions of the Council of Public Liberal Arts Colleges have worked intentionally to create new opportunities for students to publish and present their scholarly and creative work. So far the consortium has developed a peer-reviewed, interdisciplinary electronic journal of undergraduate research and a series of regional undergraduate research conferences. Currently, COPLAC received support from the Teagle Foundation to design a project to test the viability of distanced-mentored undergraduate research, allowing students in the consortium to work under the direction of a faculty member at another COPLAC institution using computer mediated technology. This distance model has the potential to dramatically increase the range of disciplinary expertise available to students. This session will discuss the potential for expanding democratic access to a recognized "high-impact" practice at the consortium level through publication, presentation, and distance mentoring.

Presenters: Bill Spellman, Director, Council of Public Liberal Arts Colleges; Steven Greenlaw, Professor of Economics, Mary Washington University, Carol Long, Provost, State University of New York at Geneseo

Bringing High-Impact Practices to Scale: Institutionalizing Undergraduate Research, Scholarship, and Creative Activity within Systems and Consortia

January 27, 2012 4:15–5:45 PM

The Council on Undergraduate Research (CUR) is working with six state systems and public and private consortia to improve the quality of undergraduate education at each of the constituent campuses and within the larger systems/consortia by focusing on institutionalizing undergraduate research, scholarship, and creative activity within each system and consortium. The systems/consortia include the Council of Public Liberal Arts Colleges, University of Wisconsin System, California State University System, City University of New York System, Great Lakes Colleges Association, and Pennsylvania State System of Higher Education. Panelists will discuss what has worked, current challenges, ongoing implementation issues, and lessons-learned from their own experiences.

Presenters: Jeffrey M. Osborn, Dean, School of Science, The College of New Jersey, and Past-President, Council on Undergraduate Research; Elizabeth L. Ambos, Assistant Vice Chancellor for Research Initiatives and Partnerships, California State University; William Spellman, Director, Council of Public Liberal Arts Colleges; Karen Havholm, Director of the Center of Excellence for Faculty and Undergraduate Student Research Collaboration, University of Wisconsin Eau Claire

This session is presented by the Council on Undergraduate Research

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