Kansas University’s third candidate for its liberal arts dean presented a defense of the importance of a solid liberal arts education on Thursday.
Greg Simpson, who has been serving as KU’s interim dean since July, is a finalist for the permanent position. He said that in difficult economic times, students have a tendency to pursue degrees that will immediately lead to higher-paying careers.
Enrollment trends show students are opting for a professional or technical degree over something in the liberal arts.
“This is exactly wrong,” he said. “The reason that it’s wrong is in what a liberal arts and sciences education does, about what we know it provides for people and what it does for their future.”
Simpson said a solid liberal arts education produces graduates who can communicate, are adaptable to changing situations and are good problem-solvers.
KU has already announced two other finalists, and one more will be announced in the coming days.
Simpson has been at KU since 1991, rising through the academic ranks to become chairman of the psychology department.
He also served a stint as an interim associate dean in the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences before being named interim dean in 2009.
Simpson said that in his experience, transparency and communication are useful from college leadership in difficult budget times, and that the college must continue to leverage its available resources in the best possible way to be successful in the future.