Southwestern University is one of 16 colleges and universities featured in a new book titled Sweet Sixteen: Great Colleges of the South. The book was published in March by the Associated Colleges of the South (ACS) to commemorate the 20th anniversary of the organization’s founding. The ACS includes 16 nationally recognized liberal arts colleges and universities located in 12 states throughout the southeastern United States.

The new book was developed to help high school students, their parents and high school guidance counselors learn more about these colleges. The full book – which has a chapter on each institution – is available online at

“We are very proud to be a member of the Associated Colleges of the South,” said Southwestern University President Jake B. Schrum. “These are extraordinary institutions that engage students in a stimulating residential setting and assist them in developing critical skills that prepare them exceptionally well for lives of work and service.”

President Schrum said ACS member institutions offer students and their families many benefits, including:

  • Extremely high student satisfaction with their college experience;
  • Graduating students on time (within four years);
  • Affordability, with considerable financial assistance available; and
  • Locations in an extremely attractive part of the country.

He said over the past 20 years, collaboration among the institutions in the ACS consortium has strengthened academic programs and broadened opportunities for students and faculty members in many ways.

At Southwestern, for example, students have taken advantage of study abroad opportunities offered by the consortium’s College Year in Athens program. Southwestern students also have been able to take classics courses that would otherwise be unavailable at a small college through the Sunoikisis program that was started by the ACS.

Grant programs sponsored by the ACS have enabled Southwestern faculty members to engage in collaborative research and teaching projects such as one that involves the installation of more energy-efficient lights in Southwestern’s Black Box Theater and another that enabled the creation of a new musical composition. Physics Professor Mark Bottorff received a grant from the ACS that he used to develop a more hands-on introductory astronomy course for non-majors.

The ACS also has funded several postdoctoral fellow positions at Southwestern and other institutions and sponsored workshops and conferences on a variety of topics, including environmental studies, information technology, and women’s and gender studies.

“We can all be stronger institutions when we take advan­tage of being a part of an alliance of 3,000 faculty members and 30,000 students,” President Schrum said.

The consortium’s latest collaboration, called The New Paradigm Initiative, focuses on a dynamic combination of face-to-face instruction and computer-mediated instruction across its 16 campuses. The approach is consid­ered “blended learning,” which utilizes technology for inter-institutional programs while maintaining the distinctive, interpersonal nature of the residential institutions. Approximately 20 online projects have been initiated or are currently being planned. The projects include courses, webinars, tutorials and modules in these academic areas:  Chinese studies, German, GIS, global health, mathematics, music, physics, religion, research ethics and writing. Carl Robertson, associate professor of Chinese at Southwestern, is involved with planning the Chinese studies offerings.

The other members of the Associated Colleges of the South are Birmingham-Southern    College in Birmingham, Ala.; Centenary College in Shreveport, La.; Centre College in Danville, Ky.; Davidson College in Davidson, N.C.; Furman University in Greenville, S.C.; Hendrix College in Conway, Ark.; Millsaps College in Jackson, Miss.; Morehouse College and Spelman College in Atlanta, Ga.; Rollins College in Winter Park, Fla., Rhodes College in Memphis, Tenn.; Sewanee:  The University of the South in Sewanee, Tenn.; Trinity University in San Antonio; the University of Richmond in Richmond, Va., and Washington and Lee University in Lexington, Va.