- Why is a liberal-arts education essential in today’s world?
A liberal-arts education empowers a person to understand and actively participate in an increasingly complex world. Based in the transdisciplinary study of literature, philosophy, mathematics, and the social and physical sciences, students are educated to become curious lifelong learners. Students are well prepared by talented and dedicated faculty for graduate school and current career paths, yet a liberal-arts education also enables students to succeed in careers that don’t yet exist. Having exposure to a broad knowledge base with an emphasis on critical thinking, excellent writing and speaking skills, as well as the ability to work effectively individually and collectively is the best preparation for a fulfilling intellectual life and a life of purpose.
- What is your vision for Southwestern University?
Southwestern University is the model of what a 21st-century liberal-arts education can mean in a world facing enormous challenges. This period in human history has been characterized as the information or technology age, and it has brought about major epistemological shifts in how we learn, perceive the world, and understand data. While the gains in technology are remarkable and essential, they have also been disruptive. Technology alone will not further the human condition or solve our greatest problems; people will. That is where Southwestern University’s emphasis on educating the whole person who understands the richness of diversity, the importance of civic discourse, the satisfaction of an intellectual life, and the value of community engagement is so extraordinarily important.
- Why are you the right person to be Southwestern’s 16th president?
My personal and scholarly life has been based upon liberal-arts principles, and I love the transformative power of education. I come from a family of dedicated teachers and have experienced the transformative power that a program of study and student engagement have on a person’s development and future. Southwestern University has a proud and unique history in Texas and is a highly selective national institution of higher education. I believe in the values and mission of the University and the unique opportunities it offers its students to engage both in and outside of the classroom. Indeed, the entire Southwestern campus is a learning environment. I have had the opportunity to teach and be an administrator at institutions with very different missions and have always felt most at home within the liberal-arts community. My greatest joy comes from working closely with students, and my purpose is to provide our expert faculty, administrators, and staff with the resources they need to offer the finest possible Southwestern University education.