ANDERSON — A local university that began as a liberal arts college has been given a low rating for its general education requirements by an independent nonprofit organization committed to liberal arts education and academic freedom.
The American Council of Trustees and Alumni gave Anderson University, whose roots were in the liberal arts, a grade of D on an A to F scale.
However, AU Chairman John Pistole, himself a graduate of the institution, said he believed the methodology used by the council to assess more than 1,000 US colleges and universities was flawed.
“We are in a great position with all of our accreditation bodies,” he said. “I don’t think we would change things to fit their methodology and criteria.”
ACTA’s annual survey scores schools on how many of seven liberal arts disciplines they require of all students. These include composition, literature, middle-level foreign language, U.S. government or history, economics, math, and natural science.
AU was the strongest in composition and science, according to the survey.
“ACTA believes these core subjects are the building blocks of an excellent, comprehensive education that prepares students for careers and enlightened citizenship,” the organization’s officials said in a prepared statement.
ACTA is one of many organizations that provide rankings on various criteria with the aim of helping prospective students make informed college choices.
ACTA Vice President of Policy Bradley Jackson said US post-secondary institutions have a duty to prepare students not only for careers, but also for life in a democracy.
“Many schools today simply don’t meet that standard,” he said in a prepared statement. “Higher education should leave students more thoughtful, more empathetic, and far more educated. Unfortunately, too few colleges and universities need a broad and strong core curriculum that fosters rigorous thinking and a responsible citizenship – and our public culture shows it.
Only 22 schools — none in Indiana — received an A grade.
Although Purdue University is graded and earned a B, satellite programs, such as Purdue Polytechnic-Anderson and Purdue’s online program are not graded.
Ivy Tech Community College is not included in the rankings at all.
Nearby Ball State also received a D rating from ACTA.
Among Indiana’s Christian colleges and universities, Goshen College, Indiana Wesleyan University, and the University of Notre Dame also received D grades. Taylor University earned a B.
Among liberal arts colleges, DePauw University, Earlham College, and Hanover College received F grades.
Pistole admitted that UA has moved away from its roots, becoming better known in recent years for its business, cybersecurity, education, engineering and nursing programs, all of which are highly regarded by American standards. other organizations.
“These are the five areas where we see the greatest potential to meet the greatest needs,” he said.
The abandonment of the liberal arts, Pistole said, is largely due to the demands of a market where students seek either a Christian education or preparation for the workforce in specific fields. While the diverse disciplines included in the liberal arts are valuable, he said, the requirements of many majors are becoming increasingly demanding and leave little time for additional subjects if students hope to graduate in all four. year.
“I am disappointed with this, but these topics are not distinctive, compelling and relevant from the perspective of our students,” he said.
Still, Pistole said he took ACTA’s rating seriously.
“No university wants a bad grade,” he said. “We always have to improve.”