The mission of the Liberal Arts Career NetWORK is to maximize knowledge, technology, and resources in a collaborative way to provide a competitive advantage to our liberal arts students and graduates in a global and ever-changing marketplace.
This mission is driven by three primary goals of advocating for the liberal arts, providing benchmarking and assessment, and leveraging technology.
The Liberal Arts Career Network (LACN) began in the mid-1990s as a collaborative relationship between Hartwick College, Hamilton College, and Oberlin College. Each college, at the time, maintained a database of available opportunities in a single field: private school teaching, science research, or publishing. The original agreement was to share among the three schools each unique database with the idea being to share work and maximize access to opportunities for students. The three colleges made the decision to further expand opportunities for students by inviting other liberal arts colleges to participate in their exchange.
In June of 1996, LACN held its first official meeting at Hamilton College in Clinton, NY. Representatives from 16 liberal arts colleges came together at the invitation of one of the original schools to brainstorm ways that they could work together and expand on the collaboration that had already begun between Hamilton College, Oberlin College and Hartwick College. From this meeting Barterbase [now the LACN Job and Internship Database], an expansion of the already successful sharing relationship began by the original group of schools, was born. Each school attending the meeting agreed to contribute opportunities to the database. Before the internet became widely accessible, the databases were shared on floppy disks via U.S. mail.
In the five years that followed, LACN members began to institute some organizational practices such as agreeing to a yearly Summit meeting, developing a committee structure, and creating a leadership structure with committee chairs. With the growth of the web and its increasing availability, the group also developed new products and new ways of sharing information. WebExchange, a career exploration tool, was created and the group purchased an on-line platform for sharing job and internship opportunities. They also began to develop relationships with other consortia that had developed in other regions of the country and expanded membership to include 21 member schools.
The first annual meeting of the LACN Executive Committee was held in December 2000 at Oberlin College. The Executive Committee at that time consisted of the Chairs of the Marketing, LEADS [now Employer Development], LACN Internships [merged with Employer Development in June 2009], and WebExchange [name changed to Spotlight on Careers in June 2003] Committees and the Site Host of the 2001 Summit. The initial charge to the Executive Committee from the membership was to develop and establish bylaws, a governing structure, and mission statement. In addition, the Executive Committee was charged with evaluating for LACN an appropriate vision and initiatives thus insuring a forward movement as a leading and trend-setting consortium.
The results of this meeting included four proposals: the establishment of two new committees, Technology and Membership; membership expansion and replacement procedures; and a call for an annual dues increase. These proposals were presented to the Membership for consideration, deliberation, and final vote at the 2001 Summit meeting by the entire LACN membership. The Bylaws and proposals were passed and the proposals were incorporated into the Bylaws.
Further development of LACN took place in 2004, by incorporating the organization as a membership-based Michigan nonprofit corporation, with the Executive Committee also serving as the Board of Directors of the corporation, and a Chairperson of the Executive Committee also serving as President. The first chairperson of the executive committee was elected at the 2005 annual Summit meeting.
In 2008, the consortium voted to hire an Operations Manager to run the day to day functions of the organization and provide support for the Executive Committee in completing the projects developed at Summit each year. And in 2010 the group met to consider the relevancy of its mission and develop a new strategic plan for the future of the organization.
Today, LACN is a consortium of 40 highly-selective liberal arts colleges and universities from across the U.S. All member schools continue to meet at an annual Summit in June of each year and the executive committee which consists of chairs of each committee and the Secretary, Treasurer, and Executive Chair meet each December to advance the goals of the consortia.