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For the Liberal Arts at the University of Toledo
The petition is the product of two years of tension around the role of the liberal arts and the treatment of the College of Arts and Sciences. We cited efforts to split the college, the "White paper" which in its original form de-emphasized the liberal arts, and the “Re-Engineering” speech which did not mention the centrality of the liberal arts.
We cited the general sense that major changes in the role and character of the liberal arts at UT were being planned without meaningful consultation with the faculty and established by administrative fiat.
We then articulated three hopes for the petition:
1. Clarification of “Areas of Excellence” and whether they can exclude or must complement spending in traditional areas in the liberal arts.
2. Support for liberal arts as a central mission of EACH university in the Ohio system regardless of that university's "area of excellence"
3. A general recognition from the chancellor that the faculty should be considered leaders and vital partners in the processes required for change.
4. That the state encourage creative integration of the liberal arts into the STEMM and professional colleges. These are not—never have been—separate pursuits. We are prepared to pursue new approaches to the integration of our work, but we have not been encourage to do so, and attempts to do so have been either rebuffed or ignored.
RESULTS: The administration has made overtures in the last two months and has demonstrated willingness to talk in broad terms about the purpose of the university and the values we represent. Though the discussion is still often framed as a "debate" (we do not regard the value and centrality of the liberal arts as debatable. It is axiomatic), we take efforts to reach out as a positive step, and we will keep pace with the administration this fall, hoping to rebuild a strong tradition in the liberal arts at UT.
The chancellor reiterated his commitment to the liberal arts and repeated his claim that "areas of excellence" can also include the liberal arts. Though our point was that strong liberal arts core sustains areas of excellence, whether or not areas of excellence are in the liberal arts, we were reassured about the commitment to the liberal arts on the part of the chancellor.
We regard our hopes and the steps we must take to realize them as more than vague aspirations but as preconditions for a vital, functioning university that lives up to the goals of a truly "higher" education. We thank all who support our efforts here at UT, and we thank those who support the value of the liberal arts to an increasingly professionalized university.
Petition Background (Preamble):
This petition urges the leadership of the State of Ohio to intervene in the
direction and planning of the University of Toledo. Signing this petition is a
strong, clear message that you believe that UT's undergraduates are entitled to
a full, broad, and high-quality education comparable to institutions across the
• The 10-Year Plan for the university system is a positive development for
the State and for our University. It clearly describes the centrality and value of
a liberal arts education for all students in the Ohio system.
• However, we believe that the president of the University of Toledo has
misinterpreted the 10-Year Plan, and on the basis of this misinterpretation will
seriously weaken both the College of Arts and Sciences and the University of
o The call for “differentiation” among universities based on areas of
excellence is being applied in inappropriate and potentially destructive ways.
Scholars in diverse disciplines are being pressured to show how their teaching
and research aligns with the strategic plan. Shakespeare scholars are being
asked to demonstrate alignment with STEMM.
o The goal of differentiation and focus on “areas of excellence” at the
expense of traditional areas of scholarly endeavor compromises the core mission
of any university as recognized by the 10-Year Plan, which says: “Success in
the global economy…requires more than technical skills. It will take
communication skills, creativity, innovation, an understanding of global cultures
and history, and much more. These skills are acquired through study in a wide
range of disciplines, including the liberal arts and humanities…” (Strategic Plan,
o Contrary to our president’s reading of the 10-Year Plan, nothing in that
document requires that differentiation have destructive consequences for areas
not designated as “areas of excellence” in each university. Indeed, it quite
clearly calls for a stable and strong core education in the liberal arts and
humanities, with “areas of excellence” understood as complementary.
action at the University of Toledo that may jeopardize our ability to meet the
strategic objectives of the State of Ohio to improve higher education.
We, the undersigned, petition the Chancellor of the Ohio Board of Regents and
the Governor of the State of Ohio to review and amend the direction and
governance of the University of Toledo.
The For the Liberal Arts at the University of Toledo petition to Students, faculty, alumni, and supporters of the University of Toledo was written by furzepig and is in the category Education at GoPetition. Contact author here. Petition tags: university of toledo, liberal arts, lloyd jacobs, faculty governance