Conference brings leaders together for the liberal arts

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June 1, 2016

The College of Saint Benedict and Saint John's University have long been recognized as two of the top liberal arts colleges in the nation.

From July 11-13, the institutions will open their campuses to a national audience of faculty, senior college administrators, trustees and policymakers to discuss the challenges, issues and opportunities facing liberal arts education.

LogoThe conference theme is "Liberal Arts Illuminated: Pathways, Possibilities, Partnerships," and will be hosted by Presidents Mary Dana Hinton of CSB and Michael Hemesath of SJU.

Approximately 200 attendees are expected to attend the conference, which will facilitate new pathways of opportunity, new partnerships and new opportunities to lead.

The conference will include a series of plenary speakers, panel discussions and breakout sessions. The various sessions, featuring liberal arts thought leaders, will engage a variety of voices and perspectives to answer four major questions:

  • Where is our sector going and how is it transformative?
  • Why should people invest in liberal arts education?
  • How do we ensure economic, social and cultural access for all?
  • What should we do to make sure the liberal arts thrive over the next 50 years?

The opening plenary speaker is Andrew Delbanco, the Alexander Hamilton Professor of American Studies at Columbia University and author of the book, "College: What it Was, Is, and Should Be." He will present "What is College For?" at 6 p.m. Monday, July 11.

Rebecca Chopp, chancellor of the University of Denver, will present a second plenary session at 5:30 p.m. Tuesday, July 12. She will speak on "Transforming Students, Transforming Ourselves."

"This conference makes a compelling statement about the value of the liberal arts and the need for creative thought and dialogue about our future," Hinton said. "Saint Ben's and Saint John's continue to proclaim and demonstrate the value of the liberal arts, regionally, nationally, and in the global conversation about higher education. This conference is a critical step in that process."

"Saint Ben's and Saint John's are deeply committed to the liberal arts as the best educational experience possible for the students we serve," Hemesath said. "We are excited to welcome visitors from around the country to this conference at which academic leaders can learn from each other to positively address both the future challenges and opportunities that the liberal arts model presents to higher education."

The conference is being hosted by the College of Saint Benedict and Saint John's University with support from the Association of American Colleges and Universities, the Association of Governing Boards of Universities and Colleges, the Council of Independent Colleges, Academic Impressions, the Corella and Bertram F. Bonner Foundation, Baker Tilly and the Minnesota Private College Council with special funding from U.S. Bank, The Lawlor Group, William F. Knese and Suzan-Oda Crokin Knese, and Lee and Vicki Morgan.