During a national forum in Washington, D.C., it was announced that Alvernia University President Thomas F. Flynn, Ph.D., and four prominent business leaders — Jim Boscov, vice chairman, Boscov's Department Stores and chairman emeritus of the Alvernia board of trustees; Michael Fromm, CEO, Fromm Electric Supply, and a current Alvernia board member; Julia Klein, chairwoman and CEO, C.H. Briggs Company; and Kevin St. Cyr, senior vice president, CommScope, also a current Alvernia board member — are joining more than 250 business, higher education, and nonprofit leaders who are participating in a national initiative called the LEAP Employer-Educator Compact.
Developed by the Association of American Colleges and Universities (AAC&U), the initiative is designed to help universities and employers team up to offer a clearer picture about the economic value of a liberal arts education.
Flynn is a member of a special presidential leadership group within AAC&U called the LEAP Presidents’ Trust. Presidents’ Trust members, and employers who work with them, are the initial signatories to this ongoing national initiative to ensure that today’s students will be well prepared for economic, civic and global challenges.
“Too many students believe that the key to economic success is completion of a major whose title seems to promise a job,” said AAC&U president Carol Geary Schneider. “What the Compact and the research on employer priorities show is that, whatever the choice of major, employers say that career success will require broad liberal learning, strong 21st century skills, and ‘real-world’ experience and savvy. We want to make sure that students and their families hear this message from employers themselves.”
Though the Compact, 160 employers and more than 100 college presidents have pledged to work together to ensure that all college students — including those attending two-year and four-year, public and private institutions — have access to a high quality liberal education that prepares them successfully for work, life and democratic citizenship.
Flynn has engaged Boscov, Fromm, Klein, and St Cyr to work together in underscoring the economic value of liberal education. It is anticipated that other business leaders will join this effort. All participating campuses and employers will work together through 2014 to showcase employer support for the aims and outcomes of a broad liberal education and to show how higher education is helping students connect college learning with work, citizenship and global challenges.
"Business leaders like Jim Boscov, Michael Fromm, Julia Klein, and Kevin St. Cyr understand the need for critical reflection and problem-solving skills; for creative, innovative thinking; for sophisticated written, oral, and auditory communication skills that are part of a liberal arts education," explains Flynn. “Tomorrow’s graduates also require global perspective, rooted in knowledge of diverse cultures and beliefs along with the capacity to clarify their own values while finding common ground with others."
"Put simply, our nation’s students need a liberal education, centered on the liberal arts and sciences. They need well-developed habits of the mind, habits of the heart, and habits of the soul. But that message easily gets lost when coming from a college president. When students and parents hear the same messages from leading employers, it becomes more credible. A national partnership that brings employers and educators together is exactly what we need to ensure that students understand what it takes to succeed in today’s workplace, and to provide more opportunities to apply learning in real-world settings," says Flynn.
President Flynn has participated in the past on several national boards, including the American Council of Education's coordinating board for all sectors of higher education. He currently sits on the boards of both the Association of Catholic Colleges and Universities (ACCU) and the Association of Franciscan Colleges and Universities (AFCU). In the Reading, Pa., area he is a board member for both The Reading Health System and Berks Business–Education Coalition, serves on the Jesuit Center of Wernersville Advisory Board and the Caron Treatment Centers Governance Committee.
By the numbers:
According to a recent AAC&U report “It Takes More Than a Major: Employer Priorities for College Learning and Student Success,” 74 percent of business and nonprofit leaders say they would recommend a 21st century liberal education to a young person they know in order to prepare for long-term professional success in today’s global economy.
The findings from this national survey of business and nonprofit leaders also reveal:
• Nearly all employers surveyed (93 percent) say that “a demonstrated capacity to think critically, communicate clearly, and solve complex problems is more important than [a candidate’s] undergraduate major.”
• Even more (95 percent) say they prioritize hiring college graduates with skills that will help them contribute to innovation in the workplace.
• About 95 percent of those surveyed also say it is important that those they hire demonstrate ethical judgment and integrity; intercultural skills; and the capacity for continued new learning.
• More than 75 percent of those surveyed say they want more emphasis on five key areas including: critical thinking, complex problem-solving, written and oral communication, and applied knowledge in real-world settings.
• 80 percent of employers agree that, regardless of their major, every college student should acquire broad knowledge in the liberal arts and sciences.
LEAP Employer-Educator Compact signers have committed to:
1) Helping Americans understand the rising demands of a global workplace and the need for every student to acquire liberal education outcomes
2) Ensuring that all college students have access to experiences that help them develop the broad knowledge and intellectual skills needed for success
3) Expanding and supporting new designs for hands-on learning, including such things as senior projects, undergraduate research, and internships
4) Advancing the dual mission for American higher education to prepare students both for successful careers and for civic responsibility
5) Documenting progress in helping all students achieve key learning outcomes, including their ability to apply learning to complex problems.