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This American Council of Learned Societies (ACLS) Occasional Paper presents the proceedings of a conference on "Liberal Arts Colleges in American Higher Education: Challenges and Opportunities" convened by ACLS in November 2003 in Williamstown, Massachusetts with the support of the Oakley Center for the Humanities and Social Sciences at Williams College and the collaboration of the Sterling and Francine Clark Art Institute. Eighteen speakers on five panels focused on historical perspectives, fiscal pressures, professional life, student achievement, and the future of liberal arts colleges. The frame of the Williamstown conference encompassed questions of faculty development and scholarly formation, but widened to include also the relationship between intellectual mission and economic constraints of the college-university, the history of these institutions, and their distinctive effectiveness in undergraduate education. The papers delivered were revised following discussion and an additional entry, Michael McPherson's, was solicited for this volume. Including Dr. McPherson, ten current or former college presidents participated in this discussion. The Introduction is presented by Pauline Yu while the Prologue, entitled "The Liberal Arts College: Identity, Variety, Destiny," is provided by Francis Oakley. The volume divides into three sections. Section I, "The Past: The Liberal Arts Mission in Historical Context," contains these papers: (1) Balancing Hopes and Limits in the Liberal Arts College (Helen Lefkowitz Horowitz); and (2) The Problem of Mission: A Brief Survey of the Changing Mission of the Liberal Arts (Christina Elliott Sorum). Section II, "The Present: Economic Pressures/Teaching, Research, and Professional Life/Educational Goals and Student Achievement," contains these papers: (3) The Economic Challenges of Liberal Arts Colleges (Lucie Lapovsky); (4) Discounts and Spending at the Leading Liberal Arts Colleges (Roger T. Kaufman); (5) Scholars and Teachers Revisited: In Continued Defense of College Faculty Who Publish (Robert A. McCaughey); (6) Beyond the Circle: Challenges and Opportunities for the Contemporary Liberal Arts Teacher-Scholar (Kimberly Benston); (7) Built To Engage: Liberal Arts Colleges and Effective Educational Practice (George D. Kuh); and (8) Selective and Non-Selective Alike: An Argument for the Superior Educational Effectiveness of Smaller Liberal Arts Colleges (Richard Ekman). Section III, "The Future: Five Presidents on the Challenge Lying Ahead," contains these papers: (9) The Challenges Facing Public Liberal Arts Colleges (Mary K. Grant); (10) The Importance of Institutional Culture (Stephen R. Lewis); (11) The Future Ain't What It Used to Be (Michele Tolela Myers); (12) A Story Untold and Questions Unasked (David H. Porter); and (13) Liberal Arts Education at Large Research Universities and at Small Liberal Arts Colleges (Morton Owen Schapiro). Responses to articles in sections I and II are presented by Stephen Fix, Michael S. McPherson, Kenneth P. Ruscio, and Mitchell J. Chang. (Contains 23 figures, 3 tables, and 157 notes.).