New task force seeks to stimulate dwindling interest in liberal arts

16th-century drawing of Grammatica.

Courtesy / PICRYL

16th-century drawing of Grammatica.

Caroline Moran , Crier Staff

Saint Anselm College has been nationally recognized for decades for its strength in the Liberal Arts and profound liberal arts education. With an emphasis on humanities, and opportunities in history, literature, philosophy and so much more, the college values studies in the liberal arts for the professional life and personal trajectory of students’ futures. With the development of the new Humanities Center, Dr. Sheila Liotta, Vice President of Academic Affairs, reflected on her work for the new committee, the Liberal Arts Task Force, which intends to promote the liberal arts.

Saint Anselm College is known by students and faculty alike for its liberal arts emphasis, as they are “an essential piece of our identity as a Catholic, Benedictine college,” Liotta said. Studying liberal arts allows a student’s education to be broad and holistic, which Liotta said is “a big part of what makes us so distinctive.”

With a college that values the liberal arts so intensely, what is the need for more promotion of them? Well, according to Liotta, “Interest in majoring in many of these fields is dropping,” and it is her and many others’ desire to guide prospective and current students to “see how the liberal arts prepare them for a meaningful life, including their career path and personal trajectory.” In sharing the story of Saint Anselm, students, professors, and community members can understand and embrace the important role the liberal arts fulfill.

Promoting the liberal arts has resulted in the Liberal Arts Task Force. Liotta had “been thinking about forming this committee before [she] came to the Saint Anselm community last summer,” she said, as her goal of supporting the liberal arts is “a big part of what motivates [her]…it is important to many of our faculty, Monastery members, and others in our campus community.” With the mutual value placed on the liberal arts by community members and Liotta personally, forming a committee to promote just that was a no brainer.

The committee was formed this semester, and its members consist of several professors across various majors. All faculty received a message looking for interest in serving on the task force, and a great number responded with astounding interest. There were more faculty who had interest besides the ones who were chosen; however, Liotta wished “to keep the committee size manageable.” The numbers speak for themselves though, and the number of professors who spoke of interest “suggests to [her] that this is an important topic for a lot of people,” Liotta said.

The Task Force is in charge of recommending initiatives for the college to take to promote the liberal arts to prospective students, parents, faculty, staff, the general public, alumni, and donors. The initiatives require a range of resources and all of them are to benefit the student experience at Saint Anselm. It will not only benefit students, but professors and the college as a whole, too. Using these initiatives will help to “capitalize on what is distinctive about Saint Anselm College if we continue to thrive,” Liotta said.

How the liberal arts are planned to be promoted is up to the committee. Committee members make recommendations on the resources and programs that will be used, which were the instructions given to them by Liotta. 

“The Task Force’s recommendations are expected at the end of the semester,” Liotta said, and depending on what those recommendations are, she will “work with faculty, administrators, and others to implement recommendations.”

“Affirming our liberal arts identity is a goal of the Vision 2025 Strategic Plan,” Liotta said, and she “expect[s] we will see good progress.” With a team of people passionate about maintaining the values of our college, all can expect excellent work from the board, which will in turn benefit the students pursuing their liberal arts education. All in all, these committee members are doing their finest work to provide the resources and programs that the college needs; they will greatly help students and allow them to get the most out of their education.