Giving Compass' Take:

• At the annual meeting of the Association of American Colleges and Universities, many education experts discuss the meaning and value of a liberal arts education. 

• Do more education donors support liberal arts education over other universities? 

• Can liberal arts education fight truth decay? 

At this year's annual meeting of the Association of American Colleges and Universities (AAC&U), much of that thinking had a dark tint to it, even if the conclusions were optimistic. Speakers in panel after panel resoundingly confirmed their work's value to the world — that work being providing a liberal education.

Answers ranged from taking the world "liberal" out of the term to changing what is taught, and how, in order to meet student needs. Common threads observed by Education Dive show an industry that is beginning to realize it needs to take on its critics more directly.

To Brandon Busteed, president of Kaplan University Partners, the words college leaders use to talk about what they do need to change. Specifically, Busteed, also speaking at the plenary, said it is time to drop the "liberal arts" label as a matter of branding.

Busteed broke the term's meaning down. To the extent that people understand the possible definitions of the words themselves, they defer to their general use, he said, citing a survey of students' parents. That means "liberal," like it or not, has a contemporary political connotation that affects how people perceive its meaning. Many people also tie the term "arts" to the visual and other fine arts, he said, although liberal arts disciplines thread through science, business and other fields of study.

In Cliatt's view, however, trying to educate the public on what the term "liberal" means in the context of higher ed could be a wasted effort. "We know we have a problem with the term. The problem is in our own communities," she said. "We've spent so much time defending the term that we're not talking about we're doing."

To her, more important than terminology is showing people the positive outcomes of students receiving a liberal education.

Read the full article about liberal arts education by Ben Unglesbee at Education Dive