American Council of Trustees and Alumni

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The American Council of Trustees and Alumni (ACTA) is a non-profit organization with the aim of ensuring non-biased or ideologically-charged Liberal Arts education at public and private higher educational institutions across the United States. It was founded in 1995 with Dr. Jerry L. Martin, a former Philosophy professor at the University of Colorado (Boulder) as its first President.

The organization works with various higher education stakeholders, including alumni, donors, trustees and faculty, with focus on the quality of education and research at universities.

The current President of ACTA is Michael B. Poliakoff, Ph.D. Dr. Poliakoff became ACTA’s third president on July 1, 2016. He previously served as Vice President for Academic Affairs and research at the University of Colorado and in senior roles at the National Endowment for the Humanities, the National Council on Teacher Quality, the American Academy for Liberal Education, and the Pennsylvania Department of Education. He has taught at Georgetown University, George Washington University, Hillsdale College, the University of Illinois at Chicago, and Wellesley College. He received his B.A. magna cum laude from Yale University and went on to study at Oxford University as a Rhodes Scholar, and the University of Michigan, where he earned a Ph.D. in classical studies.[1]

ACTA Initiatives

ACTA publishes a Trustee Toolkit, which provides in-depth research on academic excellence, affordability, and other critical issues facing higher education.

ACTA’s regional Trustee Seminars keep trustees abreast of emerging trends in higher education through small-group discussions with distinguished educators and policymakers.

ACTA also prepares an on-line college rating guide, What Will They Learn?®. What Will They Learn?® evaluates over 1,100 general education programs annually so that high school counselors, students, and parents know, in advance, which institutions offer rigorous liberal arts-oriented general education programs.

In 2019, the American Council of Trustees and Alumni (ACTA) began the Hidden Gems initiative. The Hidden Gems initiative directs the attention of students to exceptional honors programs grounded in the study of American government, history, and the Great Books at affordable public and private colleges nationwide.[2]

ACTA and The Ward Churchill Case

Former ACTA President Anne D. Neal was interviewed regarding the views of that organization as to whether a violation of free speech had occurred in the case of Ward Churchill, a University of Colorado professor of Ethnic Studies accused and later found guilty of academic misconduct and classroom activism. She confirmed that the Churchill affair was only part of a larger problematic trend of political extremism and pseudo-academic scholarship at universities around the country.[3] The organization had published an official report entitled How Many Ward Churchills? in 2006.


  3. Interview with ACTA President Anne D. Neal (Petri), 2007. How Many Ward Churchills?

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