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SUU continues liberal arts discussion
by Carin M. Miller
Dec 23, 2009 | 1657 views | 0 0 comments | 8 8 recommendations | email to a friend | print
CEDAR CITY – The topic of whether Southern Utah University should become a college of liberal arts and sciences is still in the discussion phases with ongoing conversation about all aspects of the academic plan.

“The debate is about clarity of identity, not purpose or function … current conversations seem to indicate that the designation of Liberal Arts and Sciences would somehow change what SUU is into something that it is currently not,” Brad Cook, SUU provost said. “In essence, the academic plan only contemplates allowing SUU to do all that it currently does well only better.”

Cook said it is important that all stakeholders involved have a say in the decisions to be made ahead.

“Our academic planning process is not yet complete, we are having campus conversations about what measures the campus should contemplate and there will be many more public conversations about what options are available to SUU in its academic planning,” Cook said.

Jeremias Paul, assistant professor of photography and undergraduate research liaison in the Department of Art & Design, said he thinks a student with a liberal education is better prepared for the world when they leave school.

“The outcome should be a student who is versed in many aspects of life and not just specialized in one field,” Paul said. “Don’t get me wrong, specialization is very important, but the idea is that everything else informs that specialization.”

“You can’t make art in a vacuum, which is something I’m sure applies to other fields as well,” he added.

Paul said he only recently heard about the discussions when speaking with Eric Brown, the chair of his department, who mentioned the recent forums and until then he thought SUU was a liberal arts school.

“We in the art and design department approach learning in a very holistic manner,” Paul said. “We already integrate a lot of the elements exhibited by a liberal arts education to make the students intelligent artists who can address issues in the world today. If we produced artists who could only draw really well, the pictures would be boring if they weren’t informed by anything, and relatively useless.”

A document issued by the provost said the economic data states the workplace, and the nature of work itself, is changing at a very fast pace and technical skills needed on the job today will be obsolete soon.

“The fields that are growing fastest in today’s economy are fields that require college-level skills,” the document reported. “Economists predict, in fact, that America will face a shortage of college educated workers in the coming years … The jobs of the future that will provide today’s students with the most economic security require college-level learning, and the skills and capacities a liberal education provides.”
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