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Liberal Arts programs continue to struggle

With many college students having trouble finding a job after graduation, some would question whether a degree in the Liberal Arts is worthwhile.
The American Council of Trustees and Alumni (ACTA)—“an independent, non-profit organization committed to academic freedom, excellence, and accountability at America’s colleges and universities,” according to whattheywilllearn.com—gave KU a ‘D’ on a report card released early November.
The ACTA has rated over 1,000 institutions based upon key courses students are required to take for B.A. degrees, such as English composition, literature, foreign language, U.S. government or history, economics, mathematics and science.
According to whatwilltheylearn.com, English composition and science were fulfilled by KU, but points were deducted for literature, foreign language, U.S. history, economics and mathematics.
However, Dr. Anne Zayaitz, Dean of the Kutztown College of Liberal Arts and Sciences (CLAS), thinks the department still is valuable.
“Having a broad education is for a lifetime, as opposed to just learning [one] skill,” Zayaitz said.
Such diverse subjects as mathematics, computer science, criminal justice and electronic media all fall under the Liberal Arts and Sciences umbrella.
“It’s a broad number of subjects,” said Zayaitz. “And it’s three-dimensional. You might know how to write, but depending on what you’re writing about, it could involve history or geology. It’s that way with every discipline.”
Nonetheless, some may point to the loss of the nursing major, which was put into a moratorium in 2010, as evidence of the CLAS weakening. But Zayaitz points out that the decision had been made a number of years ago, and that whatever students remain in that major will be helped to complete it.
While enrollment at Kutztown is down, Zayaitz argues that this is not unique to the CLAS or to Kutztown because “all universities are experiencing that.”
Furthermore, Zayaitz said that a number of issues effect attendance, not just the current economic situation, though that’s not to say finances are irrelevant.
While Zayaitz stressed the CLAS has “plenty of money,” she said that the recent cuts to the State Appropriations budget have been harmful in other ways.
“I think they’ve put the burden of cost back on the students,” said Zayaitz.
Zayaitz also stated that whatever the next ten years bring, the university would respond and change with the times. Among recent changes, Zayatiz noted summer courses are becoming less common, in favor of online courses. While she said it is difficult to predict the future, Zayaitz pointed out that discussions are happening “on all levels.”
“Kutztown is not a destination,” Zayaitz said. “It’s a place to get you to the next place.”
For more information and the full ACTA report, students can visit http://www.whatwilltheylearn.com.

By Ben Gross

Categories: News