The enduring relevance of a liberal-arts education

Monday, December 9, 2013

The relevance, cost and value of a college education have been hot topics lately on various media platforms. The discussion often seems to be just an exchange of point-counterpoint broadsides among proponents and opponents of a liberal-arts education.

As president of a liberal-arts college, I won’t pretend to be neutral. I have benefited from, and believe in, studying the distinctive blend of the humanities, science and the arts that is the essence of a liberal-arts education. In fact, I recently wrote a letter to the editor of The New York Times defending the humanities as part of a well-rounded education.

I believe a liberal-arts education is the best preparation a young person can have for success in life. The mission of most liberal-arts colleges is to educate the whole person rather than training graduates to succeed at specific jobs that employers may be seeking to fill at a certain point in time.

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