Letter from Interim Dean Laura M. Argys
With Dean Dan Howard recently accepting the job as Provost at New Mexico State University, I am pleased to greet you as the new Interim Dean of the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences. This issue of Pinnacle highlights the value of a liberal arts and sciences education. Despite claims by some that it is a technical or professional education that assures career success, responses to surveys administered in the business community highlight the importance that employers place on precisely the broad set of skills that students acquire when studying in the liberal arts and sciences. This survey data suggests that the most effective employees are able to think critically and creatively, communicate effectively and act ethically with cultural competence.
Recent CLAS graduates from our behavioral and social sciences and humanities highlighted in this issue, credit their successes, in part, to the strengths of our educational programs and the faculty that teach in the liberal education tradition. You’ll read about the CLAS Learning Enhancement Taskforce (LET), initially charged by Dean Howard with strengthening the liberal arts experiences of our students. This year, the LET efforts are focused on working with departments to more clearly articulate the presence of and linkages between Essential Learning Outcomes (ELOs) throughout the curriculum. As a result of the recommendations of the task force and initial activities linking ELOs to program learning objectives, the LET and CLAS faculty will continue the discussion of how best to help our students learn with intention.
With best wishes,
- The Learning Enhancement Taskforce
Bringing Value Back to Liberal Arts and Sciences Education
The Liberal Arts and Sciences model of education is such an integral part of academia that few professors or students—much less anyone beyond their college years—have thought deeply about its value. Small private colleges sometimes offer only liberal arts degrees, and most large, public institutions like CU Denver build undergraduate education around a liberal arts and sciences framework. As elementary a part of the American education system as the liberal arts may seem, there are opponents who would like to see its centrality to American higher education diminished. In a February 2011 speech to the nation’s governors, Microsoft founder and famous college drop-out Bill Gates suggested that states waste taxpayers’ money by subsidizing public university departments in the liberal arts. Shortly thereafter a government taskforce in Florida, under Governor Rick Scott, proposed lower tuition rates for students majoring in biotech and engineering fields, arguing that the state should subsidize only those seeking degrees that they deem lead to stronger industry for the state.
In This Issue
- Alumni Profile - Alums are Helping Shape Denver's Art World at Redline
“It usually comes down to one pivotal teacher,” says Louise Martorano, current Deputy Director and future Executive Director at RedLine, a non-profit arts organization in the up-and-coming RiNo district. She’s referring to the moment that changes so many students’ lives: the moment when academics and natural passion converge and the internal compass puts us on the path we were intended to walk. She remembers this moment in her own life quite clearly.
- Alumni Profile - Alum Sees His Economics Degree as a Solid Investment
Waylon Wouters will give you advice on when to buy and sell stock. That’s his job. But if you want advice on how to get the most out of your education, he recommends understanding yourself, your strengths, and finding your own niche. Wouters used the analytical and critical thinking skills his BA in Economics gave him to leverage himself “out of the mailroom” and into the position of Vice-President at the investment firm D.A. Davidson. “While you’re on that journey you get to know yourself better, you can figure out what you’re good at – your niche,” Wouters remembers. “Finding your niche will then help you build your puzzle of success.”
- Alumni Profile - Alum Finds Liberal Arts the Perfect Gateway to Law School
Every year students start college with dreams of law school, but falter when their studies become too much or the challenges of getting noticed by law schools admissions-boards prove too daunting. When she came to CU Denver in 2005, practicing law wasn’t yet on the radar for Erica Gutherz (then Herrera). While she always had professional drive and a strong work ethic, Gutherz credits the professors she met while attaining her Bachelor of Arts in Communication at the University of Colorado Denver not only with helping her make the decision to attend law school, but also with mentoring her through the process of getting accepted.