Post Classifieds

Xavier in a business-oriented society

By Donna Szostak
On January 10, 2012

In the past couple articles, Chris Dobbs and I explored

the place of the liberal arts at Xavier University

and the obstacles Xavier will have to confront in a

business-oriented society. Currently, the core is under

a reassessment to determine its effectiveness

and it may be slashed — once again. Why would

it be slashed? Because American colleges and universities have fallen victim to external forces,

and those forces hold much

sway in the University's decisionmaking.

However, one strong

contender in this decision, one

of the forces that holds sway, is

the voice of the students.

The keyword is ‘students;' if

the students (i.e., the consumers)

are pleased or displeased

with the core curriculum then

the product

must conform

to their

demands.

Liberal arts

colleges, like

Xavier, usually

have small

endowments

making it

difficult to be

flexible with

decisions. For

example, if

a university

is dependent

upon students'

tuition

fees as the

main source

of income,

the university

is swayed by those commercial

and political forces in order to basketstay

afloat. Taking desperate measures,

the university

may raise tuition

costs, force expanded

occupancy or cut

the core classes to

appease students'

complaints and

make the university

more appealing for

potential students.

Furthermore, the

increasing commercialization

of

universities created

a dilemma: there is

a decline in interest

in the liberal arts

from students, and a

corresponding interest

in technical and

commercial studies.

With the rise

of specialized majors, the liberal

arts curriculum has struggled to

provide a reason why it should

be preserved. Specialized majors

are training degrees for a professional

world. They offer a sense

of security for students and parents

because

that major

is directly

correlated

to the "real

world."

However,

when studying

the

humanities,

the first

question that

arises is the

all-too-familiar, "Well, what are

you going to do with that?" The

liberal arts struggles to find a

way to measure its utility. If the

liberal arts should not be viewed

as a form of job training, then

how should the liberal arts be observed?

Furthermore, the professionalization

of the university

creates an environment focused

on training students rather than

educating them. The

professionalization of education

will continue to confine students

to swim in a shallow pool of general

ideas. The idea that the liberal

arts is only valued as a service for

students reduces the liberal arts

to a collection of valuable skills for future employment.

Therefore, students'

value of the liberal arts is

measured by its usefulness.

However, this

definition of the liberal

arts is severely lacking.

The liberal arts educate

the entire soul. One objection

to this definition

is that it is too idealistic;

how do you earn money

or find a job? Recently,

the liberal arts' objective

has become a service to help

students find jobs or become

a specialist in a particular field.

The objective of the liberal arts

is now valued as a service to

help students get a job and prepare

for life after college. The

problem may not be the goals

of the university, but there is

a problem that lies in how the

university prepares students.

Maintaining a broad and

rigorous core curriculum

fosters an education that goes

beyond a cursory introduction

to a subject. The preservation

of a liberal arts curriculum is

necessary: it provides a ground

for a fertile

learning

environment,

one

that is dedicated

to

educating

the student.

Xavier

needs a

large core and should preserve

its core. Cutting the core will

only perpetuate the consumerdriven

system of professional

training, which may be suitable

for larger institutions but harms

liberal arts themselves.


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