History of LEAP Indiana

Indiana became a LEAP state[1] in 2013 through a resolution passed by the Indiana Commission for Higher Education. The objective was to join and collaborate with a national network in order to advance undergraduate degree completion and to foster student attainment of learning outcomes that help to prepare all graduates for employment, citizenship, and life-long learning. The Indiana Commission for Higher Education serves as a coordinating agency for the state’s public and independent colleges, helping to define the educational missions of public colleges and universities and recommending policy aimed at helping students to complete their degrees more efficiently and with less debt. Receipt of the LEAP state designation occurred following close consultation between Commission leaders and the American Association of Colleges and Universities (AAC&U) regarding methods of defining and identifying quantitative measures of quality (Indiana Commission for Higher Education, 2013). There was particular interest in beginning to identify essential learning outcomes that could become the foundation for a statewide transferable general education core, particularly if augmented by eportfolios. The resolution to become a LEAP state passed on June 13, 2013 and also recognized Indiana’s involvement in AAC&U’s Quality Collaboratives initiative (Rhodes et al., 2016) aimed at using the Degree Qualifications Profile (Ewell, 2013) to promote curricular alignment between 2- and 4-year institutions. This work also helped to pave the way for the development of competency-based (rather than course-based) transfer single articulation pathways, or “TSAPs” across public institutions in our state.

LEAP Indiana, launched in 2015, is a statewide network of faculty that was catalyzed through the Faculty Collaboratives project coordinated by AAC&U (Johnson, Rivard & McKinney, 2017) following Indiana’s designation as a LEAP state. It was intended to help faculty across Indiana campuses to understand the LEAP initiative and to engage in shared leadership for aligned initiatives such as authentic assessment, the development of signature assignments, ePortfolios, and the intentional integration of high impact practices into undergraduate degree programs across 2-year and 4-year institutions. LEAP Indiana helps to connect faculty who share a commitment to quality and equity in student learning through an annual conference and regional meetings, augmented by social media and web-based resources. LEAP Indiana is currently organized around a Hub, led by a director from Indiana University and coordinated through a steering committee involving representatives from public 2- and 4-year colleges and universities across the state. Faculty Fellows have been appointed to conduct projects aligned with LEAP priorities and to engage in shared leadership for work related to curricular alignment (e.g., Tuning, Degree Qualifications Profile), high impact practices, and assessment. Faculty Fellows and the Hub Director have received modest honoraria to help compensate for time spent on leadership and project implementation. However, the vast majority of work devoted to LEAP Indiana is voluntary and fueled by faculty dedicated to its mission of promoting inclusive excellence in undergraduate education, lifelong learning, and engaged citizenship as outcomes essential for economic success, cultural advancement and personal fulfillment in a modern world.[2] An annual conference has been held each spring that focuses on topics aligned with quality in undergraduate education. As a core value of LEAP Indiana is equity, the conference is offered to all faculty, regardless of rank or appointment type, for no fee. The network is in the process of adopting bylaws that will guide future leadership roles, and an annual budget will be supported through institutional dues collected through chief academic officers of involved institutions.


[1] LEAP (Liberal Education and America’s Promise) States comprise a national network, coordinated through the Association of American Colleges and Universities, aimed at promoting large-scale collaboration and transformational change to raise the quality of student learning within and across states. Currently Indiana is one of 13 LEAP states - https://www.aacu.org/leap/states/indiana

[2] Excerpted from LEAP Indiana website: www.leapindiana.org