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Shepherd University accepted as member of Council of Public Liberal Arts Colleges

ISSUED: 23 June 2009
MEDIA CONTACT: Valerie Owens
(Shepherd University accepted as member of Council of Public Liberal Arts Colleges)

Shepherdstown, WV--Shepherd University has been accepted into the Council of Public Liberal Arts Colleges (COPLAC).

"Our acceptance into COPLAC is a significant and important step in establishing Shepherd University as a premier public liberal arts university," said President Suzanne Shipley. "Vice President Mark Stern's leadership was crucial in organizing Shepherd's COPLAC application process successfully. We are pleased to join the ranks of COPLAC institutions."

COPLAC's mission is to identify and support high quality public liberal arts and sciences institutions. The 25 institutions that make up the Council of Public Liberal Arts Colleges are distinguished by their commitment to provide a superior education to undergraduate students. According to COPLAC, these selective institutions have been recognized nationally as outstanding in many diverse ways, including small classes, innovations in teaching, personal interactions with faculty, opportunities for faculty-supervised research, and supportive atmospheres. Most of the member colleges are located on beautiful campuses in rural or small-town settings.

The process began last year when Dr. Mark Stern, outgoing vice president for academic affairs, completed COPLAC's extensive membership application process. The application report highlighted Shepherd's outstanding liberal arts and sciences programs, including music, contemporary art and theater, Common Reading program, George Tyler Moore Center for the Study of the Civil War, Institute for Environmental Studies, study abroad and faculty-led tours, community service and service learning, Contemporary American Theater Festival, Performing Arts Series at Shepherd, Appalachian Heritage Writers Project, and the Robert C. Byrd Center for Legislative Studies.

A team of representatives from COPLAC visited campus in April to meet with faculty, staff, and students to gauge Shepherd's commitment to the liberal arts.

Desired characteristics of member institutions include small to moderate size (usually less than 5,000 students); at least 75 percent of degrees awarded at the baccalaureate level and 50 percent of those awarded in traditional liberal arts disciplines; opportunities for student and faculty interaction; a critical mass of students in a residential environment; student participation in co-curricular activities such as band, campus newspaper and radio, theater, and debate; and a clear commitment to cultural diversity.

Shepherd joins other public liberal arts colleges and universities holding COPLAC membership including St. Mary's College of Maryland, University of Mary Washington, Evergreen State College, and University of North Carolina Asheville.


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