How do we foster civil discourse on campus about the most important questions facing our democracy? The mission of the Wye Deans’ Seminar is to assist CAOs, academic Vice Presidents, Provosts, and Academic Deans in relating their academic leadership to broad issues of citizenship in the American polity and beyond. The Seminar meets a central need of senior academic administrators in liberal arts institutions—to exchange ideas with colleagues from other colleges and other disciplines while probing ideas and values that underlie both their roles as academic leaders and the lives they lead as liberally educated persons. In the best tradition of The Aspen Institute Executive Seminars, each Wye Deans’ Seminar strives:
– to gather a diverse group of thoughtful senior academic administrators in intellectually rigorous roundtable discussions – truly around the table to converse with rather than confront one another;
– to explore great literature stretching from ancient to contemporary times, not merely for artistry of language but for the power of ideas on fundamental issues in our society, and
– to translate ideas into action suitable to the challenges of our age.
Our unique format uses a variety of classic and contemporary philosophical and literary texts as the basis for intensive, interactive roundtable discussions led by a skilled moderator in small groups of 15-20 participants—a liberal arts approach to advancing liberal education.
Outcomes and Impact
Past participants have emphasized the following outcomes and impact of their participation in the Wye Deans’ Seminar:
– Personal and professional refreshment in an intellectually challenging setting;
– Exposure to diverse professional and personal perspectives, both academically and in addressing the challenges of academic leadership;
– Concrete strategies for being better intellectual leaders on and off campus.
The Wye Deans’ Seminar builds upon the long history of the Wye Faculty Seminar. Founded by Douglass Cater, then president of Washington College, and Josiah Bunting III, then president of Hampden-Sydney College, the Wye Faculty Seminar began as a pilot program in August 1983, when five small liberal arts colleges—Washington, Hampden-Sydney, Hood, Sweet Briar and Spelman—sent twenty professors to participate in an experimental, round-table discussion of “Citizenship and the American Polity.”
Upon the retirement of Douglass Cater from Washington College and Josiah Bunting’s assumption as headmaster at the Lawrenceville School, the Association of American Colleges and Universities and The Aspen Institute agreed to co-sponsor the Wye Faculty Seminar in 1991.
This established partnership ensures that the Wye Faculty Seminar and Wye Deans’ Seminar will remain unmatched in their power to provide professors and administrators in the nation’s liberal arts colleges and universities the opportunity to come together for a week of intellectual dialogue.
In 2013, we marked the 30th anniversary of our Wye Faculty and Deans programs in support of liberal education.
Provosts and academic deans are encouraged to register before April 1, 2016 and should complete the on-line application form here. Each seminar begins with an opening reception and dinner on the evening of the first day and closes with lunch on the final day. Participants’ guests are welcome on a double occupancy basis for a small additional fee, which includes room, board, social events, and a copy of the readings. Guests are welcome to observe the seminar, but do not participate in the roundtable discussion.
Each college or university is required to provide travel costs and a participation fee of $3,275. The fee includes tuition, lodging, meals, social events, and the seminar readings that are sent to participants well in advance of the seminar.