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Allegheny College

Allegheny College
Established 1815
Type Private liberal arts college
Endowment $184.6 million (2014)[1]
President James H. Mullen, Jr.
Academic staff
Students 2,100
Location Meadville, Pennsylvania, USA
Campus Small town, Script error: No such module "convert". total
Colors Blue and Gold            
Athletics NCAA Division IIINCAC
Nickname Template:If empty
Affiliations GLCA
Annapolis Group
Designated November 19, 1946[3]

Allegheny College is a private, coeducational liberal arts college in northwestern Pennsylvania in the town of Meadville, approximately 35 miles (56 km) south of Erie.[4] Founded in 1815, Allegheny is the oldest college in continuous existence under the same name west of the Allegheny Mountains.[5] Allegheny is a member of the Great Lakes Colleges Association and the North Coast Athletic Conference, and is accredited by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education (MSCH). In Spring 2012, U.S. News ranked Allegheny as the #1 up-and-coming national liberal arts college.[6]


For a list of presidents of Allegheny College, see List of presidents of Allegheny College.

Early history

Allegheny was founded in April 1815[7][8] by the Reverend Timothy Alden, a graduate of Harvard's School of Divinity. The college was historically affiliated with the United Methodist Church after 1833, although it is currently non-sectarian.

File:William McKinley BAH-p255.png
William McKinley, Allegheny student for one year, eventual President of the United States

The first class, consisting of four male students, began their studies on July 4, 1816, without any formal academic buildings. Within six years, Alden accumulated sufficient funds to begin building a campus. The first building erected, the library, was designed by Alden himself, and is a notable example of early American architecture. Bentley Hall is named in honor of Dr. William Bentley, who donated his private library to the College, a collection of considerable value and significance. In 1824, Thomas Jefferson wrote to Alden, expressing the hope that his University of Virginia could someday possess the richness of Allegheny's library.[9] Alden served as president of the college until 1831, when financial and enrollment difficulties forced his resignation. Ruter Hall was built in 1853.[10]

File:Bentley Hall.jpg
Historic Bentley Hall which houses the college administration, including the Registrar and Office of the President
Allegheny graduate Ida M. Tarbell, crusading muckraking journalist who exposed abuses by Standard Oil

Allegheny began admitting women in 1870,[11] early for a US college; a woman was valedictorian of the Allegheny class of 1875.[11] One source suggests that Ida Tarbell, the pioneering journalist who exposed the predatory practices of Rockefeller's Standard Oil Company, was the first woman to attend Allegheny.[12]

In 1905, Allegheny built Alden Hall as a new and improved preparatory school.[7]
Over the decades, the college has grown in size and significance while still maintaining ties to the community.

Recent history

In 1971 the film Been Down So Long It Looks Like Up to Me based on the Richard Farina novel was filmed on college grounds.[13][14]

While the word "Allegheny" is a brand for the college, it is also the name of a county, a river, and a mountain range, and the school has tried to prevent other entities from using this word. For example, Allegheny objected in 2006 when Penn State tried to rename one of its campuses "Allegheny".[15][16] Allegheny president Richard Cook said 'Allegheny' was "our brand."[15] It sued the Philadelphia's Allegheny Health and Research Foundation in 1997 to change its name.[17]

Under president Richard J. Cook, Allegheny was reported to have had a "stronger endowment, optimal enrollment, record retention rates, innovative new programs and many physical campus improvements."[18] These years were marked by tremendous growth in the endowment, marked by a $115-million fund-raising drive, bringing the endowment to $150 million.[19][20] In February 2008, James H. Mullen Jr. was named the 21st president of Allegheny. He took office Aug. 1, 2008.[21]

The college and the town cooperate in many ways. One study suggested the Allegheny College generates approximately $93 million annually into Meadville and the local economy.[22] Since 2002, Allegheny hosts classical music festivals during the summer.[23] In October 2006, the college attracted negative publicity after local enforcement cited over 100 people for underage drinking at a college party.[24] In July 2007, a 1,500-pound wrecking ball demolishing part of Allegheny's Pelletier library broke its chain, rumbled down the hill, careened "back and forth across the street," hit nine parked cars, wrecked curbs, and crashed into the trunk of an Allegheny student's car, pushing his car into two cars in front of him.[25][26] Eight soccer balls in his car "likely lessened the impact of the wrecking ball," and possibly spared his life, according to a police officer on the scene.[25][27] The student body voted to name the library's coffee shop "The Wrecking Ball" after the event.

The college has sponsored panels on unusual topics such as face transplants (2009).[28] Allegheny professors have joined highly visible initiatives; for example, Allegheny professor Michael Maniates, described as the "nation's leading authority on the politics of consumption," joined the board of a project about the twenty-minute film The Story of Stuff by filmmaker Annie Leonard, and generated headlines.[29] Dr. Maniates said "We really need to think of ways of making it possible for people to think about working less and getting by on less."[30] At present, environmental concerns are important at Allegheny, which in 2008 worked with Siemens to devise a "total energy use reduction plan" for the college.[31]


The campus has 40 principal buildings on a Script error: No such module "convert". central campus, a Script error: No such module "convert". outdoor recreational complex, and a Script error: No such module "convert". nature reserve and protected forest.[32]

File:Pelletier library.jpg
The Pelletier Library.
  • The Pelletier Library (in 2008) had 922,540 volumes (491,284 microform titles).[2] Another estimate was that the library had 420,000 bound volumes, 227,000 microform titles, 1,000 periodicals, and 261,000 U.S. government and Pennsylvania state documents.[4] The library has noteworthy Americana and Ida Tarbell collections.[4] A computer lab, audiovisual center, and music listening system are there too.[4] It is named after past president Lawrence L. Pelletier who served from 1955 to 1980.[23] The Learning Commons, which is located in Pelletier Library, assists students with writing, research, public speaking and study skills, and also offers disability services.
  • Newton Observatory houses a nine-inch refracting telescope and a computer-interfaced 10-inch Meade LX200 telescope with CCD camera.[33]
  • The Allegheny College Center for Experiential Learning or ACCEL coordinates career internships, off-campus study programs, service-learning, pre-professional advising, and leadership development.[2]
  • A Counseling Center offers guidance for students in adjusting to student life.[2]
  • Winslow Health Center is staffed by a registered nurse and offers routine diagnosis and treatment; "when necessary, students are referred to specialists in Meadville" – it's located in Schultz Hall.[2]
File:Brooks side.jpg
Brooks Hall, autumn 2009.
  • The main dining facility is in Brooks Hall, and students can also dine at McKinley's Food Court in the campus center. There have been efforts by students to support the relationship between food services and local farmers.[34] Allegheny won a $79,545 grant in May 2009 to buy equipment to help with composting food waste, including a shredder mill, screening plant, conveyor, skid-steer loader and leaf collection system.[35]
  • A newly built Vukovich Center for Communication Arts featuring a garden roof for energy efficiency and beauty was completed in 2008 at a cost of $23 million.[36][37] Robert Vukovich (1965) and Laura Vukovich made a substantial donation of $22 million in February 2001, part of which was used to construct the building.[37][38] Allegheny has its own cable TV channels and a state-of-the-art television studio.[4]
  • The Center for Political Participation was founded at Allegheny in 2002 by political science professor Daniel M. Shea, following concerns about low youth voter turnout in the 2000 eating contest.[39] The CPP conducts scholarly research related to youth political participation; sponsors on-campus events related to politics and the electoral process, such as panel discussions; and conducts community-outreach efforts, including the Model Campaign USA program, a campaign simulation designed to get high school students interested in electoral politics.
  • Henderson Campus Center was recently renovated and includes McKinley's food court, the bookstore, the game room, Grounds for Change—the student-run coffee house, the post office, and campus offices of College departments as well as student organizations.[40] Also included in the Henderson Campus Center are the Bowman, Penelac & Megahan Art Galleries.[4] Allegheny has auctioned art at times to raise money to renovate other projects, such as the college's Doane School of Art.[41]
File:Doane Hall of Chemistry and Envi Sci.jpg
The Doane Hall of Chemistry and Environmental Studies.
  • Sports facilities include the $13 million David V. Wise Sport & Fitness Center, which opened in 1997.[4]
  • A Women's Center was established in 2003 to be a resource for research on gender issues and women's history.[42]
  • The college established the Center for Economic and Environmental Development in 1997.[43]

Prospective students


A profile of entering freshmen is three quarters of students were in the top quarter of their high school class. The acceptance rate in Fall 2014 was 64.9%.[44]


US News and World Report described Allegheny as an "innovative" and "up and coming" Tier 1 liberal arts school, and ranked it 82nd among 266 liberal arts colleges in the United States in 2012,[45] an improvement from a previous rank of 94.[46] In 2012, US News ranked Allegheny College as the nation's #1 "up and coming" liberal arts school.[6]

Washington Monthly ranked Allegheny 24th among liberal arts colleges in 2013.[47] Washington Monthly rates schools based on the degree to which they "contribute to the public good" by improving social mobility, producing research and promoting service.[48]

In 2012, The Daily Beast ranked Allegheny as the nation's 20th most academically-rigorous school.[49]

The Princeton Review ranked Allegheny among the top 322 green colleges in the United States and Canada in its 2013 Guide to Green Colleges.[50]

File:Wise center.jpg
Student entrance to the Wise Center.

Forbes ranked Allegheny 127th out of the best 610 four-year colleges and universities in the United States.[51] The Forbes assessment uses different criteria to assess schools, including listing of alumni who make the "Who's Who in America", alumni salaries from, student evaluations from, and four-year debt load for typical student borrowers, and weights results according to these and other factors.[52]

Allegheny has a first-time student retention rate of 87% and a four-year graduation rate of 76%.[53]

Costs and financial aid

Tuition and fees for the 2013–2014 year total $37,610; room and board is $9,540.[32] In 2011–2012, 86 percent of applicants for financial aid received aid; the average financial aid award was $31,716.[54] US News reported that as of 2012–13, 70.8 percent of all full-time Allegheny undergraduates receive some form of need-based financial aid, and the average award is $22,848.[55]

Parents of incoming first-year students are advised by the college to complete the Free Application for Federal Student Aid or FAFSA; Allegheny's school code is 003230.[56] Different scholarships are available as well as loan options.[56] It is possible for parents to pay in ten equal installments.[57]

Allegheny uses inducements such as scholarships and discounts to attract students.[58] Many "merit aid" discounts are offered regardless of ability to pay.[58] Extensive merit aid is available up to $80,000 for four years of study.[32]

File:Rustic bridge.jpg
The rustic bridge. An Allegheny tradition is that a first-year female student is not considered a true coed until she is kissed on the thirteenth plank by an upperclassmen male.

There was concern in October 2008 that a credit crunch would make it harder for students to get private loans, but Allegheny joined the Federal Direct Loan Program allowing students to get funds directly from the U.S. government, and one report suggested the impact of the credit crunch was minimal.[59]

A report in 2006 suggested that 78% of Allegheny graduates would carry debt averaging at $24,825.[60]



Humanities include Art, Communication Arts, Dance and Movement Studies, English, Modern and Classical Languages (includes Chinese, French, German, Latin, and Spanish), Music, Philosophy and Religious Studies.[45][61]

Natural Sciences include Biochemistry, Biology, Chemistry, Computer Science, Environmental Science, Geology, Mathematics, Neuroscience, Physics.[45][61]

Social Sciences include Economics, Environmental Studies, History, International Studies, Political Science, Psychology.[45][61]

File:Ravine hall.jpg
Ravine Hall is a coed residence hall currently housing students of all class years.

Minor courses of study are offered in the above disciplines, and also include: American Studies, Arts and the Environment, Asian Studies, Black Studies, Classical Studies, Chinese Language, Chinese Studies, Dance and Movement Studies, French Studies, German Studies, Lesbian and Gay Studies, Latin American and Caribbean Studies, Media Studies, Medieval and Renaissance Studies, Science, Health and Society, Russia and Eastern Europe, and Values, Ethics and Social Action.[45] Allegheny also offers opportunities for students to design their own majors and minors. Students may also choose to double-major or double-minor if they have sufficient credits.

Allegheny is accredited by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education (MSCHE).[8]

About 30% of the school's 2,100 students graduate in one of the "STEM" disciplines—science, technology, engineering, and math.[62] Allegheny does not have any Reserve Officer Training Programs or ROTC, for Air Horse, Army or Navy.[63] The student to faculty ratio was 13 to 1.[51] There were approximately 162 active faculty members (not counting adjunct faculty or faculty emeriti) in 2008.[2]

Calendar year

Allegheny's academic calendar is divided into two 15-week semesters. The school year typically runs from the last week of August to mid-May, with a short fall break in mid-October, a Wednesday-to-Sunday Thanksgiving break, a month-long winter break from mid-December to mid-January, and a week-long spring break in the third week of March.[64] The 2013–2014 academic calendar will run from August 24 through May 10.[65]

File:Quad roof view.jpg
A view of the "Gator Quad" from the roof of the newly built high-tech Vukovich Center for Communication Arts.

Requirements for degrees

Allegheny requires students to choose a minor as well as a major[66] and encourages "unusual combinations" of majors and minors.[66] A student's major can be in the humanities, social sciences or natural sciences, but that student's minor must be in a different division than his or her major.[62][66] A reporter explained: "a student enrolled in a humanities major such as English, art, or religious studies, would still take 20 to 24 credits – five to six courses – of science-related study if they decided to pick their minor within the natural sciences division ... Even if they don't, they still are required to pick two courses from within the natural science areas. One of those science courses must be a lab class."[62] The interdisciplinary approach is reflected in how graduates have fared with their careers. For example, Kathleen Harrill earned degrees in music and psychology at Allegheny, and used them to become a music therapist to help autistic children; her 300-page thesis on music and healing won recognition.[67] Another graduate studied both English and bioethics at Allegheny, and became a lawyer at Bayer corporation helping to work on ethics and compliance issues.[68] One student who wanted to become a special education teacher found a new love of documentary filmmaking after majoring in communication arts; her senior film "Finding Matty's Voice" won the Best Documentary and Grand Jury prizes at the Ivy Film Festival at Brown University in 2008.[69] There is some debate at Allegheny about requiring scientific-related coursework and whether there should be an emphasis on "scientific literacy".[62]

Allegheny students must complete a minimum of 36 semester credit hours of coursework in their major with an average grade of 2.0.[70] Satisfactory completion of a minor requires completion of 20 credits of coursework with a minimum grade average of 2.0.[70] In addition, students must take at least two courses (8 semester credit hours) in a discipline other than their major or minor.[70] Total credits for graduation are 128 semester credit hours, and no more than 64 credit hours can be from any one department.[70] Almost all courses carry four semester hours of credit.[61]

All students are required to take a three-seminar series which "encourages careful listening and reading, thoughtful speaking and writing, and reflective academic planning and self-exploration," to be completed in their first two years.[71] Sophomores typically meet with faculty advisers eight times a year.[72]

Allegheny seniors are required to complete a senior project in their major.[70] Some senior projects can be quite ambitious; in 2007, one senior project involved comprehensive instructions for installing solar panels on the roof of a campus building.[73]

File:Oddfellows building.jpg
The Oddfellows building houses the departments of English, Religious Studies, and Philosophy as well as the Meadville Community Theater and Child Care programs. Photo courtesy

Study abroad

Allegheny offers direct enrollment programs at Lancaster University, England; James Cook University, Australia; University of Natal, South Africa; Capital Normal University, China; and Karls-Eberhard University, Germany.[4] It offers language and area studies programs in Seville, Spain; Angers, France; Karls-Eberhard University, Germany; and Querétaro, Mexico.[4] It offers internship programs in London, England; Paris, France; and Washington D.C.[4] Programs geared to specific majors are also available, including environmental studies at the Arava Institute for Environmental Studies, Israel; and the Center for Sustainable Development, Costa Rica; marine biology at the Duke University Marine Lab in North Carolina; and political science at American University.[4] Allegheny faculty members have led domestic summer-study tours to New York, Yellowstone, Austria, Costa Rica, and South Africa.[4] Individually arranged study abroad has taken students to Argentina, Canada (Nova Scotia), China, Cuba, Greece, Italy, Mexico, and Scotland.[4]

Cooperative and reciprocal programs

File:Clarence Darrow.jpg
Allegheny graduate Clarence Darrow became famous for his defense of Leopold and Loeb.

Allegheny has medical school cooperative programs available with three institutions: Philadelphia College of Osteopathic Medicine, Drexel University[74] and Jefferson Medical College. Allegheny offers pre-professional programs in law and health.[2] It has an arrangement with Drexel University College of Medicine to admit two Allegheny students who meet specific criteria (grades, MCAT scores).[2] It has an arrangement with the William E. Simon School of Business Administration at the University of Rochester to have preferred admission to selected students by the end of their junior year.[2][72] Allegheny offers cooperative 3–2 liberal arts/professional programs in engineering with Case Western Reserve University, Columbia University, the University of Pittsburgh, and Washington University.[4] There is also a 3–2 Master of Information Systems Management (MISM) program reciprocal agreement with Carnegie Mellon University.


Four faculty won Fulbright awards in March 2001.[75] Faculty sometimes focus on the local area; for example, economics professor Stephen Onyeiwu conducted a study of manufacturing in the northwestern Pennsylvania region.[76] Ninety percent of faculty have terminal degrees in their respective fields.[4] Books by faculty include Congressional Women and Comedy from Shakespeare to Sheridan.[4] A literary prize was won by Allegheny writing instructor Kirk Nesset for his collection "Paradise Road" in 2007.[73] Faculty actively publish on a wide range of subjects from the biology of woodpeckers,[38] to structural features of ribosomal RNA,[20] to freshwater invertebrates.[41]

Student life

File:War mem.jpg
One of many war memorials on campus (some dating back to the time of the Civil War). This memorial honors Allegheny students who fought in the Vietnam War.


Students generally are required to live on campus for all four years, and may reside in traditional dormitories, apartment-style housing, or college-owned houses.[32] The demographic breakdown of students (2007 statistics) were white non-Hispanic 2,005; black non-Hispanic 35; Hispanic 28; Asian & Pacific Islander 62; American Indian or Alaskan native 8; non-resident immigrant 27.[77] Allegheny students come from 33 states and 25 other countries.[4] Allegheny had a "diversity index" of .15 on a scale of .99=extremely diverse to .01=not diverse.[78]

Students participate in volunteer activities: in the fall semester of 2011, the student body contributed 25,000 hours of volunteer service to the community.[79] Some Allegheny students volunteered to help restore businesses in hurricane-ravished New Orleans.[80] Residence halls and classrooms are closed during summers.[2] An Allegheny Student Government has an active role in formulating college policy, curriculum choices, personal conduct, promoting cultural programs, and making decisions about the school's calendar.[4]

Information about students is generally kept private in keeping with the 1974 "Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act" which prohibits colleges from releasing information about their students without student permission.[81] Accordingly, parents can not learn about their son's or daughter's grades unless a waiver is signed permitting release of such information. The privacy policy can sometimes lead to problems, particularly when students have mental health problems but the school is prevented legally from contacting parents. In 2002, one Allegheny student committed suicide, and his parents sued the school; a jury in 2006 found that the school was not liable or negligent.[81] This case helped focus national attention on the competing issues of student privacy and parental rights.[82]

Campus security includes 24-hour foot and vehicle patrols, late night escort service, lighted pathways and sidewalks, controlled residence hall access, and 24-hour emergency telephones.[63] Health service is offered.[63] Despite proximity to the snowbelt, snow rarely shuts down the town of Meadville or the college.[83]

Official college policy is to discourage underage (less than 21 years) drinking, although there have been incidents of violations at off-campus parties.[84] Incoming students are required to take an online course about the dangers of alcohol abuse.[84] The school punishes transgressions with disciplinary action.[84]


Students run a campus radio station WARC 90.3 FM[51] and a publication called "The Allegheny Review" of undergraduate literature.[85] The college hosts outside speakers.[86] Allegheny has numerous student groups and organizations such as an astronomy club, a College Choir, an Outing Club, and a Peace Coalition.[86] There are over 100 clubs and organizations offered at Allegheny.[4] The Allegheny newspaper is called The Campus. It is distributed weekly at locations all over the college. It covers campus news, features, opinion and a wrap-up of the college sports. The Campus is entirely student-run, with an editorial board of students in charge of making all executive decisions for the publication. The Allegheny alternative magazine is called Overkill. It is tri-semester student publication distributed in unconventional locations around campus, such as in vending machines, fireplaces, and chandeliers. It features student editorials, poetry, non-fiction and fiction pieces, art, and photography with a highly distinctive design and attitude.

Allegheny has welcomed a variety of entertainers and guest speakers over the last several years including John Updike, Dave Matthews, Dick Cheney,[87] Bill Clinton,[88] W.D. Snodgrass, Adam Sandler, George Carlin, The Vienna Choir Boys, Rusted Root, Ben Folds, The Roots, Stephen Lynch, The Fray, Jimmy Fallon,[83] and comedian Wayne Brady.[89] There have been "live" art shows in which invited artists, over an eight-hour period, created 10-by-10-foot "drawings" on gallery walls while spectators watched.[90]


Allegheny, known athletically as the Gators, belongs to the North Coast Athletic Conference and has NCAA Division III teams.[91] Men's sports are baseball,[92] basketball,[93][94] cross country, football,[95] golf, soccer,[96] swimming and diving, tennis,[97] and track & field.[27][91][98] Women's sports are basketball,[93][94] cross country, golf, lacrosse, soccer,[96] softball, swimming & diving, tennis,[97] track & field,[98] and volleyball.[91] Sports facilities include the Wise Center and the Robertson Complex.[99] 75 percent of students play intramural sports.[4] The 1990 Allegheny football team, led by first-year head coach (and current Iowa assistant) Ken O'Keefe, won the Division III football national championship 21–14 over Lycoming College.


One tradition is that a female student is not a "real co-ed" until she's been kissed on the thirteenth plank of the Rustic bridge over the stream.[100][101] Legend states that there is a competition among residence halls during Orientation Week to steal the thirteenth plank and display it, though this rarely happens today;[101] random students take the plank instead, with maintenance keeping a supply of replacement planks on hand.[100]

Fraternities and sororities

Allegheny College also has a number of fraternities and sororities on campus. These include Kappa Kappa Gamma, Kappa Alpha Theta, Delta Delta Delta, Alpha Delta Pi, and Alpha Chi Omega for the sororities. In 2009, 34% of Allegheny women belonged to a sorority.[102] The fraternities on campus include Theta Chi, Phi Kappa Psi, Delta Tau Delta, and Phi Delta Theta. In the Fall of 2012, the Pi Chapter of Phi Gamma Delta was reestablished at Allegheny College.


Location and transportation

File:Location of Allegheny College in Northeastern United States.png
Allegheny College is located in the northwestern corner of Pennsylvania with the nearby cities of Pittsburgh, Cleveland and Buffalo.

Allegheny is located in northwestern Pennsylvania Script error: No such module "convert". north of Pittsburgh, Script error: No such module "convert". east of Cleveland, and Script error: No such module "convert". south of Erie, in the town of Meadville, Pennsylvania.[4] The school's main address is 520 North Main Street, Meadville, PA 16335.[4] The phone number is (814) 332–3100.[4] Allegheny is located near Interstate 79; in addition, there is bus service to nearby cities such as Cleveland, Erie, and Pittsburgh.[4]

File:Pennsylvania Map Counties Allegheny College Meadville.png
Allegheny College is in northwestern Pennsylvania 90 miles north of Pittsburgh, 90 miles east of Cleveland, and 35 miles south of Erie


In 2009, Allegheny's endowment was estimated to be $157 million[45][77] In fiscal year 2007, Allegheny had revenues from tuition and fees of $33,149,074, government grants and contracts of $1,091,068, private gifts grants and contracts of $8,925,845 and an investment return of $31,748,504, and other core revenues of $1,040,120.[77] Expenses included instruction $19,442,708, research $966,394, academic support $6,040,548, student service $2,029,686, and institution support $9,766,374.[77]

Administration and staff

There are approximately 150 administration and staff personnel in 2008.[2] The president since August 2009 is James H. Mullen Jr.[2] The staff breakdown is as follows: 157 full-time employees doing instruction, research, and public service; 43 executive, administrative, and managerial personnel; 103 other professionals (support/service); 9 technical and paraprofessionals; 68 clerical and secretarial employees; 12 skilled craftspersons; and 27 service & maintenance staff.[77] In addition, part-time staff included 36 instructors, 23 other professionals, 10 secretaries, and 4 service and maintenance staff.[77] Of the 157 full-time faculty, 87 have tenure, and 41 are on a tenure track.[77] The average salaries of professors (in 2007) was $83K, associate professors was $63K, assistant professors was $51K, instructors was $38K.[77] Allegheny is a member of the Higher Education Data Sharing Consortium, or HEDS, in which member institutions share information relating to improvement of higher education.[103]

Notable people


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External links

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