January 28, 2009
UNC Asheville, a longtime leader in public liberal arts education, will now host the national headquarters for the Council of Public Liberal Arts Colleges (COPLAC). Founded in 1987, COPLAC is a highly regarded consortium of 25 undergraduate U.S. and Canadian institutions dedicated to the advancement of public liberal arts education.
"As one of the eight founding members of COPLAC, UNC Asheville has long been a leader in promoting the distinct advantage that is unique to a public liberal arts college experience," said UNC Asheville Chancellor Anne Ponder. "As a focus of our strategic plan, hosting COPLAC's headquarters on our campus assures our central role in leading the national conversation about interdisciplinary teaching and learning in the 21st century."
The move to UNC Asheville indicates COPLAC's growing maturity as a national organization, said Mary Grant, president of Massachusetts College of the Liberal Arts, who serves as COPLAC president.
"Since its founding, COPLAC has been fortunate to have the support of a number of campuses that each took on a portion of the organization's work. That spirit of collegiality and collaboration is the hallmark of this organization," Grant said. "As part of COPLAC's strategic plan to increase national awareness of these critically important public liberal arts colleges and universities, the Governing Board determined it was time to bring all the components of the organization together in one place. This is an exciting step forward and will help COPLAC move to the next level."
Grant also announced that UNC Asheville Professor Bill Spellman has been tapped as COPLAC's first full-time executive director, following a national search. Spellman, who begins his duties on March 1, will be responsible for internal programming and external advocacy and communications for COPLAC.
"Bill is going into this position with tremendous enthusiasm and support from the COPLAC board," said Grant. "He has devoted his life to teaching within a public liberal arts institution and brings the same passion, devotion, concern and commitment to this national organization. Bill is just a perfect fit."
Spellman, who joined the UNC Asheville faculty in 1988, is a professor of history and currently director of the Masters of Liberal Arts Program. He has served as UNC Asheville's campus representative to COPLAC since 2001. Spellman, who holds a doctorate in history from Syracuse University, has received numerous awards including UNC Asheville's Distinguished Teacher Award and the Ruth and Leon Feldman Professorship for scholarship and service.