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ACTA Gives TAC an “A” Rating, Perfect Score for Academics in 2019-20 Report

Posted: September 26, 2019

The American Council of College Trustees and Alumni (ACTA) has released its annual report (PDF) on the curricular strength of American institutions of higher learning and, once again, Thomas Aquinas College is at the very top of the list.

On its What Will They Learn? website, ACTA posts evaluations of the major public and private colleges and universities in all 50 states — over 1,100 four-year institutions, with nearly 8 million undergraduate students among them. For the eleventh time in as many years, ACTA has given Thomas Aquinas College a grade of “A” and a perfect rating.

By earning an “A,” Thomas Aquinas College rates among the top 2 percent of American colleges and universities, 22 schools in all, named to ACTA’s coveted A List. Moreover, the College is one of only seven schools, or the top 0.6 percent nationwide, to earn a perfect score for the strength of its curriculum.

“For over a decade, ACTA has expressed concern that rising employer dissatisfaction with college graduates, as well as the decline in civic competency and informed discourse in the public square, are attributable to an overall deterioration of core curricula in the liberal arts,” says Dr. Michael Poliakoff, ACTA president. “The good news is that our report identified 22 exceptional programs this year,” he continues, including Thomas Aquinas College, which he describes as “excellent.”

While numerous guides rank colleges and universities based on popularity or reputation, ACTA’s annual rating evaluates schools solely on the basis of their curricula. It focuses on the substance of schools’ mandatory courses and texts, or core curricula, identifying seven essential areas of study for undergraduates: composition, literature, U.S. government or history, foreign language (at an intermediate level), mathematics, natural science, and economics. The more of these areas of study required by a college or university, and the more substantive the curricula in these areas, the higher the school’s overall ACTA rating.

“Thomas Aquinas College offers a rigorous and carefully designed four-year program of studies. Every student goes through the same integrated program that includes four years of philosophy, four years of theology, four years of mathematics, four years of natural science, four years of seminar — literature, history, and political science — two years of Latin, and one year of music,” says Dean John J. Goyette. “This hearkens back to a tradition of learning that has been abandoned by the modern universities, an integrated curriculum designed to provide a well-rounded education.”

The versatility of this program is evident in the College’s alumni, who go on to excel in a wide variety of professions, from law and medicine to journalism, public policy, technology, architecture, and military service. “The rigorous study of the Great Books, and our use of the Discussion Method, not only elevates the minds and hearts of our students to the most important things, it also perfects their powers of reason,” says Dr. Goyette. “It helps them develop the ability to read carefully, think critically, articulate a thesis, and learn from their peers. It thus provides them with the skills necessary for success in any discipline or profession.”