14 Pages

Liberal Arts: Listening to Faculty

WithDennis O’Brien

This chapter begins with a small empirical survey of what "liberal arts" means to a thoughtful array of university faculty at an institution deeply committed by mission, history, and tradition to the liberal arts. Because 1998-99 was also a year of presidential transition at LaSalle, and because the university needed to re-study its fundamental mission in the light of various changing economic and educational concerns, the author volunteered to prepare a report for the incoming president on how the faculty and some key administrators regarded the past, present, and future mission of LaSalle. If there is any special value to his LaSalle interviews it is at least he had one empirical sample of the "hundred different ideas" about the liberal arts-and the characterizations offered were indeed many and varied. When pressed toward operational specificity on how to create critical awareness or ethical decision, the interviewees suggested teaching "multiculturalism", "great ideas", and "high culture".