` Western Oregon University joins the Council of Public Liberal Arts Colleges - Western Oregon University

Western Oregon University joins the Council of Public Liberal Arts Colleges

Written by Maureen Brakke

MONMOUTH, Ore. – Western Oregon University officially joined the Council of Public Liberal Arts Colleges (COPLAC) this month after a rigorous application process. COPLAC advances the aims of its member institutions and drives awareness of the value of high-quality, public liberal arts education in a student-centered, residential environment. Western is the only public university in Oregon to hold membership currently. 

Established in 1987 and now consisting of 30+ colleges and universities in 28 states and 1 Canadian province, COPLAC represents a distinguished sector in higher education. Some campuses have received designation from state legislatures or public university systems as the state’s public liberal arts college or the public honors college for the liberal arts. 

“We are thrilled to welcome Western Oregon University to COPLAC. It was clear from our site visit interactions with members of the WOU campus community, the materials submitted as part of the application process, as well as your leaders’ engagement with members of the consortium, that WOU’s institutional values and commitment to a 21st-century liberal arts education perfectly align with COPLAC’s,” said COPLAC President Tuajuanda C. Jordan. “We look forward to working in partnership with WOU to enhance the accessible liberal arts educational experience consortial members provide to students across the U.S.”

Executive Director of COPLAC Cole Woodcox agrees with Jordan’s assessment of Western’s commitment to its role as a welcoming, supportive undergraduate-serving institution. Woodcox shares, “We believe WOU will contribute substantially to the COPLAC community and will particularly strengthen the network of public liberal arts institutions in the Western region. We look forward to working with WOU–together we can be better universities with one another.”

“Becoming a member of the Council of Public Liberal Arts Colleges underscores our commitment to academic excellence and innovation,” said Western Oregon University President Jesse Peters. “This affiliation offers opportunities for collaboration, access to shared resources, and the exchange of best practices. It enhances our ability to prepare students for successful careers and engaged citizenship, reaffirming our dedication to excellence in liberal arts education.”

Prospective membership criteria include university commitment to the mission and values of COPLAC and to collaborative work that supports the public sector of higher education, representing access, affordability, and community engagement while providing students with a holistic and integrative liberal arts and sciences undergraduate experience that prepares students for lifelong learning and civic engagement in a democratic society. See the complete list of criteria.


COPLAC serves both external and internal constituencies. It communicates to state and federal policymakers the vital importance and benefits of providing students with comprehensive public higher education in the liberal arts and sciences. It collaborates with major national higher education organizations like the Association of American Colleges and Universities to advance the aims of liberal learning in a global society. The COPLAC office is located on the campus of the University of North Carolina Asheville. The staff works actively with member institutions to improve the quality of liberal arts and sciences education on member campuses.



About Western Oregon University

Western Oregon University, established in Monmouth in 1856, proudly stands as Oregon’s oldest public university. Hosting around 4,000 students, Western embodies a mid-sized, NCAA Division II institution, with approximately 80% of its students hailing from within the state. Notably, its diverse student body comprises individuals from underrepresented backgrounds, veterans, and non-traditional learners. Western stands as the preferred campus in Oregon for those pursuing an enriching education within a nurturing, student-focused environment, characterized by faculty-led instruction. Where You Belong.

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