Full Biography

Carol Geary Schneider is president emerita of the Association of American Colleges and Universities (AAC&U) and a Fellow with Lumina Foundation where she is working on initiatives related to equitable access to high quality learning.  Dr. Schneider is an early modern historian and has worked for the entirety of her career to ensure that all college students receive a broad and empowering liberal education, whatever their career interests or socio-economic circumstances.

Dr. Schneider served as president of AAC&U from 1998 until June 2016. With over 1350 member institutions drawn from the entire higher education community, large, small, two-year, four-year, selective and open admission, AAC&U is the leading national organization devoted to advancing and strengthening undergraduate liberal education.

During her presidency, AAC&U became widely recognized as a powerful force and voice for strengthening the quality of student learning in college for all students and especially those historically underserved in U.S. higher education. Underscoring these commitments, AAC&U expanded its mission in 2012 to encompass both liberal education and inclusive excellence and especially the relations between them.  Schneider also spearheaded a merger between AAC&U and Project Kaleidoscope, a faculty-led STEM reform organization, an action which significantly expanded AAC&U’s leadership for reform and renewal both in the way students learn science and in science outreach to underserved students.

The best known of AAC&U’s inclusive excellence initiatives, Greater Expectations (2000-2006) and LEAP (Liberal Education and America’s Promise, (2005-), worked both with educators and employers to develop and promote a framework for quality learning that addresses both students’ career aspirations in an innovation-fueled economy and also graduates’ development as knowledgeable and engaged citizens in a diverse democracy and an interdependent global community.

In partnership with research scholars, Greater Expectations and LEAP further identified a set of engaged educational practices—now termed “high impact”—that help students both persist in college and demonstrably develop the “essential learning outcomes” they need for success.  Numerous national and international projects are now pioneering long-term efforts to build these high impact practices into “guided learning pathways”–from cornerstone to capstone—for contemporary college students.

Because of her leadership on braiding equity and quality together, Lumina Foundation enlisted Carol Schneider in 2010 as part of a small design team to create what became the Degree Qualifications Profile (DQP), a framework for quality learning intended to provide broad guidance on the essential components of college learning across multiple degree levels.  Several hundred institutions now are using the DQP to guide their work on quality and equity.  She also contributed to the writing of A Crucible Moment:  College Learning and Democracy’s Future, a blueprint for making civic engagement with challenging questions an expected rather than optional part of college study.   She spoke about Crucible’s importance to a diverse democracy at The White House, in an address that was streamed across the nation.

Dr. Schneider has published extensively on all the major areas of her educational work and is frequently cited both in the higher education and national press.  Her most recent essay on “Making Excellence Inclusive:  Roots, Branches, Futures,” appears in Liberal Education (Vol. 102, No. 2, Spring 2016).

Dr. Schneider is a graduate of Mount Holyoke College with a bachelor’s degree in history (Magna Cum Laude, Phi Beta Kappa).  She studied at the University of London’s Institute for Historical Research and earned the Ph.D. in history from Harvard University. She has taught at the University of Chicago, DePaul University, Chicago State University and Boston University and has been a visiting scholar at The Getty Institute and the American University of Cairo.

She has received fourteen honorary degrees, was the 2011 recipient of the ACPA’s Contribution to Higher Education Award, the 2013 recipient of the NAC&U Ernest L. Boyer Award, the 2014 recipient of the University of Pennsylvania’s Zemsky Medal for Innovation in Higher Education, the 2016 President’s Medal recipient from the Charles and Stella Guttman Community College, and has been honored as one of Diverse Magazine’s “25 Leading Women in Higher Education.”