Roth on the Value of a Liberal Arts Education

As the president of an elite liberal arts college, Michael Roth is obviously biased in extolling the virtues of attending such an institution, but his latest Huff Post column is somewhat reassuring in these cautiously optimistic times:

…There is a promise of freedom in the liberal arts education offered by America’s most distinctive, selective, and demanding institutions; and it is no surprise that their graduates can be found disproportionately in leadership positions in politics, culture and the economy. A quick look at several members of President-elect Obama’s leadership team can stand as an example of how those with a liberal arts education are shaping the future of our society.

…The possibilities for free study, experimentation and risk taking need protection and cultivation. Looking around the world, we find no shortage of thugs who desecrate or murder those who seek to produce a more meaningful culture. And here at home we can easily see how mindless indifference to the contemporary arts and sciences facilitates the destruction of cultural memory and creative potential.

America’s great universities and colleges must continue to offer a rigorous and innovative liberal arts education. A liberal education remains a resource years after graduation because it helps us to address problems and potential in our lives with passion, commitment and a sense of possibility

Yeah, it’s basically an extended brochure for prospective Wes students, but such positive thinking might be helpful when these thoughts are keeping you up at night.

Huffington Post: What’s a Liberal Arts Education Good For?

54 thoughts on “Roth on the Value of a Liberal Arts Education

  1. Anonymous

    all the hipsters i know are either queer or involved in making social change. you, 7:48am, are an asshole. way to reinforce bogus stereotypes. what is a hipster, anyways? someone who wears tight jeans? newsflash…80% of this campus wears tight jeans, probably including you.

  2. Anonymous

    all the hipsters i know are either queer or involved in making social change. you, 7:48am, are an asshole. way to reinforce bogus stereotypes. what is a hipster, anyways? someone who wears tight jeans? newsflash…80% of this campus wears tight jeans, probably including you.

  3. Anonymous

    10:10 -I’d rather have the queers and their crazy desire to “make social change” and “educate people” than the hipsters who only want to do coke and judge you.

  4. Anonymous

    10:10 –

    I’d rather have the queers and their crazy desire to “make social change” and “educate people” than the hipsters who only want to do coke and judge you.

  5. Anonymous

    Roth’s platitudes at time come off like some high school civics lesson, ie a title such as “the value of a liberal arts education” and i doubt that any college English department would give him high marks for master word craftsmanship. Visiting the wesleyan website sometimes feels like watching the movie, “The Truman Show” and therefore entertaining in an absurdly Wesleyan way.

  6. Anonymous

    Roth’s platitudes at time come off like some high school civics lesson, ie a title such as “the value of a liberal arts education” and i doubt that any college English department would give him high marks for master word craftsmanship. Visiting the wesleyan website sometimes feels like watching the movie, “The Truman Show” and therefore entertaining in an absurdly Wesleyan way.

  7. Anonymous

    Let’s just be honest here and admit that most people don’t have any idea what Wesleyan is at all much less any particular view of it. Maybe we should consider getting any kind of publicity at all before we worry about what kind it is.

  8. Anonymous

    Let’s just be honest here and admit that most people don’t have any idea what Wesleyan is at all much less any particular view of it. Maybe we should consider getting any kind of publicity at all before we worry about what kind it is.

  9. Anonymous

    11:47, you’re obviously saying that sarcastically. but based on conversations with some of my friends, many students here believe that seriously. get the hell over your confused gender issues and start looking into a JD, MBA or MD. Be useful to this country, rather than just talking about abstract theories of gender all the time and being so difficult.

  10. Anonymous

    11:47, you’re obviously saying that sarcastically. but based on conversations with some of my friends, many students here believe that seriously. get the hell over your confused gender issues and start looking into a JD, MBA or MD. Be useful to this country, rather than just talking about abstract theories of gender all the time and being so difficult.

  11. Anonymous

    I don’t think it’s “bad” that Wesleyan is so liberal. I do however think it’s unfortunate that we have such a gay/trans reputation. I’m a freshman, so I am perhaps closer to what some folks on the outside, prospectives, think about the school. When people think Wesleyan, they think transexual, activist, angry femi-nazi. I wound up here because I liked the classes I visited, but I wish students would focus their attention more on academics and post-graduate employment, and less on gender binary/feminist/gay advocacy.

  12. Anonymous

    I don’t think it’s “bad” that Wesleyan is so liberal. I do however think it’s unfortunate that we have such a gay/trans reputation. I’m a freshman, so I am perhaps closer to what some folks on the outside, prospectives, think about the school. When people think Wesleyan, they think transexual, activist, angry femi-nazi. I wound up here because I liked the classes I visited, but I wish students would focus their attention more on academics and post-graduate employment, and less on gender binary/feminist/gay advocacy.

  13. Anonymous

    Actually no johnwesley, I hardly think prestige centers around USNews rankings; USNews is significant, but most people understand how ridiculous it is. However, I hardly think that schools have moved in Wesleyan’s direction. Sure, all schools are dominated by a liberal faculty but that’s nothing new. Despite it’s mildly eccentric ways, Wesleyan is remarkably close to the center. And of course, Roth includes experimentation as a part of the learning process- it’s not like Williams and all would condemn creativity. Also, notice how I managed to write something with attacking the writer? Civility is nice.

  14. Anonymous

    Actually no johnwesley, I hardly think prestige centers around USNews rankings; USNews is significant, but most people understand how ridiculous it is. However, I hardly think that schools have moved in Wesleyan’s direction. Sure, all schools are dominated by a liberal faculty but that’s nothing new. Despite it’s mildly eccentric ways, Wesleyan is remarkably close to the center. And of course, Roth includes experimentation as a part of the learning process- it’s not like Williams and all would condemn creativity. Also, notice how I managed to write something with attacking the writer? Civility is nice.

  15. johnwesley

    I think if you examine the record you’ll find that all of those schools have moved further in Wesleyan’s direction over the years than the other way around. And if you really pay attention to what mroth is saying, you’ll notice he always includes experimentation as an essential part of the learning process. You guys need to broaden your horizons; it’s so obvious your definition of prestige begins and ends with the USNews rankings [waits for the inevitable comment that the USNews rankings are important and can’t be ignored.)

  16. johnwesley

    I think if you examine the record you’ll find that all of those schools have moved further in Wesleyan’s direction over the years than the other way around. And if you really pay attention to what mroth is saying, you’ll notice he always includes experimentation as an essential part of the learning process. You guys need to broaden your horizons; it’s so obvious your definition of prestige begins and ends with the USNews rankings [waits for the inevitable comment that the USNews rankings are important and can’t be ignored.)

  17. Adam

    prestige is irrelevant. wes must remain on the social fringe in order to maintain its identity. keep wes weird, fuckers.

  18. Adam

    prestige is irrelevant. wes must remain on the social fringe in order to maintain its identity. keep wes weird, fuckers.

  19. Anonymous

    11:49 and 12:29… agree 100%. roth is the man.*waits for “radical liberal” to comment on how prestige is irrelevant and that wes must remain on the social fringe in order to maintain its identity*

  20. Anonymous

    11:49 and 12:29… agree 100%. roth is the man.

    *waits for “radical liberal” to comment on how prestige is irrelevant and that wes must remain on the social fringe in order to maintain its identity*

  21. Anonymous

    Well said, 11:49. The school can humor itself by keeping Wesleyan superficially weird but at the end of the day we can’t stray too far from our peers without losing prestige. I’m glad we have a president who recognizes this.

  22. Anonymous

    Well said, 11:49. The school can humor itself by keeping Wesleyan superficially weird but at the end of the day we can’t stray too far from our peers without losing prestige. I’m glad we have a president who recognizes this.

  23. Anonymous

    I’m glad that in a school known for its freaks and social deviants, we found a straight white man to represent us. All the liberal assholes will complain, but that’s the reputation that I want my alma mater to project; we’re not some clown school for social experimentation, but a serious academic environment on par with Williams, Amherst, Vassar, and Swarthmore.

  24. Anonymous

    I’m glad that in a school known for its freaks and social deviants, we found a straight white man to represent us. All the liberal assholes will complain, but that’s the reputation that I want my alma mater to project; we’re not some clown school for social experimentation, but a serious academic environment on par with Williams, Amherst, Vassar, and Swarthmore.

  25. Anonymous

    Michelle–what’s wrong with that quotation? I think the recent attacks in india prove that there certainly is no shortage of human scum willing to destroy culture and civilization. Roth is simply arguing that a liberal arts education can serve to acclimate people to a common human culture, and stop shooting at one another.

  26. Anonymous

    Michelle–what’s wrong with that quotation? I think the recent attacks in india prove that there certainly is no shortage of human scum willing to destroy culture and civilization. Roth is simply arguing that a liberal arts education can serve to acclimate people to a common human culture, and stop shooting at one another.

  27. Michelle

    “Looking around the world, we find no shortage of thugs who desecrate or murder those who seek to produce a more meaningful culture.”mroth, you’re infuriating.

  28. Michelle

    “Looking around the world, we find no shortage of thugs who desecrate or murder those who seek to produce a more meaningful culture.”

    mroth, you’re infuriating.

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