02-03 LS&A Bulletin

A Greeting to the Students of LS&A

Welcome to the College of Literature, Science, and the Arts! For more than 175 years the College of LS&A has been the home of the liberal arts — natural sciences, social sciences, and the humanities — at the University of Michigan. In fact, we are nationally — and deservedly — known as a great liberal arts college within a great research University. We on the faculty are eager to work with you because we believe so strongly that the study of the liberal arts is the very best preparation for all aspects of your life to come. Here are three reasons why we believe this.

First, our experience as teachers of many students confirms that study of the liberal arts will make you a better person. After four years of study in the humanities, social sciences, and natural sciences your ability to think analytically, to write clearly, and to read carefully will improve dramatically. You will be better able to define and to solve social and scientific problems, to evaluate works of art, to respect diverse views and to work with people very different from yourself. By exploring the origins and development of contemporary ideas and institutions you will learn the crucially important fact that the world has been made — and can be remade — by people just like yourselves. And you will be better able to judge what needs to be preserved and what must be changed.

Second, we know that these skills and understandings are the very best preparation for your life after graduation. Today's world is marked by diversity, a globalizing economy, and a pace of change that is blindingly fast and success in that world requires breadth and adaptability. There is a remarkable consensus among LS&A faculty, business leaders and deans of graduate and professional schools that a broad-based liberal arts education is the best preparation for a career today. Note the emphasis on broad. Now is the time to take a language you've always wanted to speak, study a place you've never been, understand a time long ago, solve a problem in mathematics or science that will affect our future. With more than 1,000 faculty members teaching in 25 departments, 17 programs and 7 museums, among others, the only limits on the breadth of your education in the College of LS&A are your own courage and imagination.

Finally, our many thousands of alumni tell us that the knowledge they gained through the study of the liberal arts has stayed with them for life. As these successful people move through life they often tell us how they remember the book, the class, the professor in LS&A that first fired the interests — in science, literature, politics, and other things — that sustained and deepened their lives over many years. For most of them, the four years in LS&A became the foundation for a rich life and an active citizenship.

We are ready to become a similarly important part of your life; to challenge you and be challenged by you, to share this crucial time in your life with you, to do everything we can to help you succeed after graduation, and to maintain a lasting relationship with you through a life improved by your time here.

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Terrence J. McDonald
Interim Dean
College of Literature, Science, and the Arts

 


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