ACTA - American Council of Trustees and Alumni

Promoting academic freedom, excellence, and accountability at America’s colleges and universities.

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Photos from ACTA - American Council of Trustees and Alumni's post 06/17/2024

America's first Secretary of State, Thomas Jefferson saw foreign language study as essential for cultural understanding and the future of the new Republic. For this reason, his plans for UVA and William and Mary required advanced modern languages for diplomacy and updated scientific education, a new idea in an era where most universities only required classical languages. For more information about the importance of foreign language study, visit


On this day in 1811, American author Harriet Beecher Stowe was born in Litchfield, Connecticut. While accompanying her father and sister to Cincinnati, Stowe was frequently brought into contact with enslaved individuals escaping across the Ohio River into the northern United States. During this time, Stowe learned about life in the south and the institution of American slavery. She began drafting Tom's Cabin, detailing the horrors of slavery. Find out which schools require courses in literature by visiting


Born just ten years before the outbreak of World War II, Anne Frank lived with her family in Frankfurt, Germany until they were forced to flee to Amsterdam with Hitler's rise to power. Although Anne died in the Bergen-Blesen concentration camp in 1945, her diary was later published and is the most widely-read diary from the Holocaust today.


What Will They Learn?'s institution search page just got better! Pin schools of interest to compare What Will They Learn? grade, tuition, and more, and share with the click of a button. Visit find the right school for you.


On this day in 1783, French brothers Joseph-Michel and Jacques-Étienne Montgolfier first publicly demonstrated their prototype hot air balloon in a marketplace in Annonay, France. Find out which colleges require science as a part of their core by visiting!


ACTA President Michael Poliakoff and Vice President of Development & Philanthropy Emily Koons Jae were recently featured in Town & Country Magazine! Read their take on why college donors are revolting against the Ivies.

“This time I think we’re finally seeing a moment when major donors and and alumni are saying that these schools have lost their way. We love them but our wallets are shut until certain core reforms are made… We’ve been seeing some shifting in the past but nothing that I can recall at this scale. This time it looks like they mean it.”


Originally known as Decoration Day, Memorial day is a U.S. holiday honoring those who have died in service of the nation. Its exact birthplace is unknown, with numerous places in Pennsylvania, South Carolina, Mississippi, and New York claiming to have started the tradition during or after the Civil War. In 1868 John A. Logan and an organization of Union veterans proposed a national holiday on May 30th to honor the dead. It wasn't until after World War I that the observance's name was changed to Memorial Day as it paid respects to those who had died in all U.S. wars, not just the Civil War. Memorial Day is now celebrated on the last day in May.


On this day in 1859, Scottish writer Sir Arthur Conan Doyle was born in Edinburgh, Scotland. Though Doyle initially studied medicine at the University of Edinburgh’s Medical School, he is best known for authoring the widely popular Sherlock Holmes series. Discover schools that require Literature courses by visiting!


"A+" schools put students first and the results speak for themselves. Visit to learn more!


Meanwhile, the average 4-Year graduation rate in the United States is 52%—44% lower than at "A+" institutions.

Innocent Until Proven Greek: How Academic Bureaucracies Threaten Student Civil Liberties 04/26/2024

What an interesting discussion.

ACTA's Dr. McGuire talked about the civil liberties "red flags" raised when universities use anonymous reporting and secretive surveillance systems to monitor/police student speech and behavior. He also was asked how many universities have achieved ACTA's Gold Standard for Freedom of Expression. "Very few" meet all 20 requirements, said McGuire, though some, like the University of Chicago, have done better than others.

Watch the complete discussion by following the link below.

Innocent Until Proven Greek: How Academic Bureaucracies Threaten Student Civil Liberties The Fraternity and Sorority Action Fund will host “Innocent Until Proven Greek: How Academic Bureaucracies Threaten Student Civil Liberties” at 9 a.m., Thurs...

Innocent Until Proven Greek: How Academic Bureaucracies Threaten Student Civil Liberties 04/25/2024

Upcoming LIVE AT 9 am EST, Innocent Until Proven Greek, a panel discussion on how higher-ed administrators are stifling student life, endangering students' rights to free association, due process, and free speech, featuring Dr. Steve McGuire, ACTA's Paul & Karen Levy Fellow in Campus Freedom.

Innocent Until Proven Greek: How Academic Bureaucracies Threaten Student Civil Liberties The Fraternity and Sorority Action Fund will host “Innocent Until Proven Greek: How Academic Bureaucracies Threaten Student Civil Liberties” at 9 a.m., Thurs...


On Monday, ACTA was honored to brief University of Alabama System trustees on the basics of board governance, intellectual diversity, campus free expression, and fiscally sound spending practices. ACTA thanks the attendees, and President Pro tempore Scott Phelps for the invitation.

An ACTA Message to College Trustees: Do Not Allow Your Campuses to Become Havens for Antisemitic Violence and Harassment 04/23/2024

"This is a disgrace that further erodes confidence in higher education."

An ACTA Message to College Trustees: Do Not Allow Your Campuses to Become Havens for Antisemitic Violence and Harassment.

“It is good that administrators at Columbia University and Yale University have finally taken some action to restore order on their campuses,” said ACTA President Michael Poliakoff. “But they have not acted decisively enough.

An ACTA Message to College Trustees: Do Not Allow Your Campuses to Become Havens for Antisemitic Violence and Harassment College campuses across the country continue to be in turmoil today as uncivil demonstrators block doors, harass students, and threaten...


Celebrated Spanish author Miguel de Cervantes was born outside of Madrid in 1547. At the age of twenty-three he joined the Spanish infantry and remained in its service for five years. In 1575 Cervantes and his brother Rodrigo set sail for Spain, but were attacked and sold into slavery for five years. The young writer later used this dramatic experience in his later works, including Don Quixote, which he would compose twenty-five years later.


Today in 1775 the "shot heard round the world" rang out between British and American soldiers at Lexington and Concord officially starting the Revolutionary War. Although the odds were against them, American minutemen, including both free and enslaved African Americans, succeeded in routing their foe all the way to the Boston harbor where British gunships prevented them from inflicting more damage on the retreating troops.

Ann Coulter ’84 Appearance Leads to Faculty Arrest 04/17/2024

This faculty member is modeling behavior for students that all college administrators should abhor and combat. Arrest was warranted. But she also ought to face swift and meaningful punishment by Cornell.

Ann Coulter ’84 Appearance Leads to Faculty Arrest Ann Coulter ’84, a controversial conservative media personality, made her return to campus on Tuesday with a talk entitled “Immigration: The Conspiracy To End America.”Audiences largely did not disrupt Coulter. However, Prof. Monica Cornejo was arrested during the question and answer section d...


One of the most famous composers that ever lived, Ludwig van Beethoven was born in Bonn, Germany on December 17, 1770. Beethoven attracted public attention by his teenage years and was able to study alongside Mozart for a short time. The young composer went on to international fame, but lost his hearing entirely in 1819. Nevertheless, Beethoven continued to compose until his death in 1827.

Claudine Gay will teach ‘reading and research’ in fall 2024 | The College Fix 04/16/2024

"The Harvard Corporation continues to bring shame upon itself."

ACTA President Michael Poliakoff is quoted extensively in the piece, but here's a key excerpt:

"Plagiarism, Poliakoff said, whether committed by students or faculty 'is such an egregious breach of ethics that the penalty for it is routinely long -term suspension or expulsion for students and termination for faculty.'

He questioned why Gay even rose to the presidency of Harvard, given her minimal academic work.

'Claudine Gay’s scholarly output is so slim as to raise the question of why she was ever elevated to such a level at Harvard,' Poliakoff said. 'It seems utterly inappropriate for her to return to a tenured chair at Harvard, and for her to retain her outsize salary is an outrage to other citizens of the academy. The Harvard Corporation continues to bring shame upon itself.'

Read the complete The College Fix piece below.

Claudine Gay will teach ‘reading and research’ in fall 2024 | The College Fix Penn’s ousted president plans remain unclear.

We asked 6,000 New Englanders: Is a college degree still worth the cost? - The Boston Globe 04/11/2024

There's an interesting piece in The Boston Globe, backed by new public survey data, delving into the question of whether the rising cost of getting a college degree is worth it. We thank the Globe for seeking comments on this question from ACTA President Michael J. Poliakoff.

Here's what Dr. Poliakoff had to say on the topic, excerpted:

"People such as Michael Poliakoff believe it’s not just the cost of college that is draining support: What is taught is inadequate to prepare students for many jobs. Moreover, colleges have become an 'echo chamber' of ideas, he says. 'It used to be a diploma from a four-year college would get you a good job,' says Poliakoff, president of the Washington, D.C.-based nonprofit American Council of Trustees and Alumni. 'So many employers are not confident in newly hired four-year college graduates.'

The concept of free speech on campuses is hotly contested. When our survey asked respondents to choose which was the bigger problem for colleges, 52 percent reported it’s people being allowed to say harmful or misleading things, while the rest believe it’s people being prevented from saying what they want.

'Take these findings as a wake-up call,' says Poliakoff, whose organization advocates for the free exchange of ideas on campus. 'College should be a place where you think the unthinkable and challenge the unchallengeable. . . . It should be an opportunity for everyone to come out with greater strength for career and citizenry.'

We asked 6,000 New Englanders: Is a college degree still worth the cost? - The Boston Globe Emerson College Polling and the Globe Magazine partnered on a sweeping survey of adults around New England. Here’s what they had to say.

Abbott’s executive order is unconstitutional 04/10/2024

The Daily Texan asked ACTA President Michael Poliakoff about Gov. Abbott's executive order and below is the statement he provided, which the paper was kind enough to include in its coverage.

“The Governor’s strong support for freedom of speech and firm prohibition of antisemitism are fully compatible. Speech that threatens imminent racial violence or creates an environment so hostile that students of color cannot pursue their educational goals is both illegal and despicable: the same is manifestly true for antisemitism. It is customary for university speech policies to include time, manner and place restrictions in addition to prohibitions on speech that is constitutionally unprotected because it amounts to, for example, discrimination or harassment. It is quite proper that the Governor would require the state’s universities to review their policies, and his order is particularly urgent in the wake of the rise in antisemitic acts on campuses following the October 7 Hamas massacre."

Where do you come down on this question?

Abbott’s executive order is unconstitutional Senior columnist Ava Saunders argues Governor Abbott’s recent executive order threatens free speech on campus.


On this day in 1869, the number of supreme court justices was increased by Congress from seven to nine. This occurred as a result of president Ulysses S. Grant's Judiciary Act of 1869, which in addition to increasing the number of justices, also required six justices to form a quorum. To find out which colleges require courses in US Government or History check out the link in our bio!

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Videos (show all)

"I do not teach classics for black people, and I do not teach classics for any one people group. I believe in making cla...
Here's one more key snippet from Dr. Jay Bhattacharya's recent interview on ACTA's "Higher Ed Now" podcast. Bhattacharya...
"It felt almost like an excommunication."Stanford's Dr. Jay Bhattacharya, during a recent podcast interview with ACTA's ...
What an interview. Stanford University's Dr. Jay Bhattacharya in this clip talks about the positive role Stanford could ...
"These people who come in through the DEI pipeline are the ones who are going to enforce the priorities of the woke agen...
"You can get an English degree from Yale without reading Shakespeare."George Will and ACTA President Michael Poliakoff i...
"Part of our problem is, it seems to me, that when we say highly educated we mean expensively credentialed."  In another...
Those in favor of censoring speech often base their entire argument on a false syllogism that speech is harmful and, the...
These are Dr. Steve McGuire's opening remarks at this week's 3rd annual Campus Free Speech Round Table, hosted by US Rep...
Dr. Dorian Abbot, an Associate Prof. of Physics at the University of Chicago, talked at a recent symposium about how a g...
Most observers agree that higher-ed reform and reinvention are imperative. But from where should the push for change com...
There were so many highlights from ACTA's Alumni Summit On Free Expression earlier this year. Here Jenna A. Robinson, fr...




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