The Council of Public Liberal Arts Colleges advances the aims of its member institutions and drives awareness of the value of high-quality, public liberal arts education in a student-centered, residential environment.
Established in 1987 and now consisting of 27 colleges and universities in 24 states and one Canadian province, COPLAC represents a distinguished sector in higher education. Some campuses have received designation from their state legislatures or public university systems as the state's public liberal arts college or the public honors college for the liberal arts. Others have carved out a less formal but no less visible role as such in their states or province.
COPLAC serves both external and internal constituencies. It communicates to state and federal policy makers the vital importance and benefits of providing students with comprehensive public higher education in the liberal arts and sciences. It collaborates with major national higher education organizations like the Association of American Colleges and Universities to advance the aims of liberal learning in a global society. Through its public liberal arts newsletter, thePLAN, campus leaders offer insight into major issues facing public higher education in the new global century.
Most recently, COPLAC has built an organizational and administrative structure that will allow it to move forward with member collaborations, including faculty and student exchanges, professional development opportunities for staff, faculty summer institutes, shared study-abroad programs, and enhanced information sharing. COPLAC also is broadening its mission to include regional undergraduate research conferences and a web-based platform for outstanding scholarship at the undergraduate level. Students who enroll at a COPLAC institution will now be engaged directly in the wider mission of public liberal arts education, the best preparation for a meaningful life and professional career.
The Governing Board of COPLAC consists of the 27 Presidents/Chancellors or their designees. The Board elects a president of the organization for a two-year term and the full board meets on a semi-annual basis. The Board also elects a five-person Executive Committee whose members oversee the administrative work of the Director of COPLAC.
The COPLAC central office and staff are located on the campus of the University of North Carolina - Asheville. The staff works actively with member institutions to improve the quality of liberal arts and sciences education on each campus. For additional information or inquiries concerning membership, please contact Director Bill Spellman at (828) 350-4590 or Program Associate Sarah Olivo at (828) 258-7879.