You are viewing this article in the archives. For the latest breaking news and updates in Ann Arbor and the surrounding area, see
Posted on Mon, May 20, 2013 : 10 a.m.

University of Michigan hosting conference on role of liberal arts at research universities

By Kellie Woodhouse

The University of Michigan is hosting a three-day conference on the future of liberal arts at research colleges.

The conference takes place from May 22 to 24 at the Rackham Graduate School building.


University of Michigan is hosting a conference at Rackham Graduate School on May 22 to 24.

Melanie Maxwell |

U-M is a fitting place to host such a conference since it had a $1.27 billion research budget in fiscal 2012, yet it also has a growing art school and top-rated musical theater program. The school is used to balancing its research endeavors with more traditional liberal arts studies.

The conference will include a panel discussion of leaders in higher education, including former graduate school dean Earl Lewis, on the status of liberal arts education at research universities on May 22 at 7 p.m. The next day, also at 7 p.m., U-M President Mary Sue Coleman, former President James Duderstadt and University of Virginia President Teresa Sullivan will conduct a panel discussion on a similar topic.

"Today, the national conversation about higher education centers around crisis, failure, fraud and pressure for research universities to expand training in entrepreneurship and applied learning," Terrence McDonald, dean of U-M's College of Literature, Science, and the Arts, said in a statement. "This conference will provide a forum for educational leaders to discuss the value, contributions and future of the liberal arts."

College leaders of Yale University, University of California at Berkley, Northwestern University, University of Minnesota and Purdue University also will speak during the conference.

Kellie Woodhouse covers higher education for Reach her at or 734-623-4602 and follow her on twitter.



Tue, May 21, 2013 : 2:55 p.m.

Whole Dude - Whole Man: The term research cannot exclude the investigation of the reality of man. There is a subjective reality of man, and there is an objective reality of man. A scientific observer or investigator can examine some aspects of the man and the research subject has to reveal and describe his/her own reality as experienced. There is no easy way to study about man's feelings, thoughts, and imaginations. Man is not known unless the person described in one's own thoughts is studied and researched. The discovery of true or real man will never be completed until each individual is fully studied and researched. Unlike psychology, and anthropology, liberal arts involves the art of knowing man's subjective reality.


Mon, May 20, 2013 : 10:36 p.m.

It could prove interesting. One of the "hits" on Sullivan and the on-then-off removal attempt by their chancellors was that UVA graduated something like 70 students that were in LA programs with ten or less graduates. Good? Bad? Don't know. Current emphasis seems to be research and marketable programs. Having a medieval French history degree...

Kellie Woodhouse

Mon, May 20, 2013 : 7:22 p.m.

Interestingly, Earl Lewis, the former dean of U-M's Rackham Graduate School who is speaking during the May 22 panel, was the chairman of the 2002 presidential search advisory committee. Lewis left U-M in 2004 to become the provost of Emory University and is now the president of the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation.

Kellie Woodhouse

Tue, May 21, 2013 : 5:03 p.m.

Indeed. I do know his name is mentioned among certain campus circles...


Tue, May 21, 2013 : 4:21 p.m.

and i suspect he is a strong candidate to be our next president (in my case, I hope so)

Dan Schoof

Mon, May 20, 2013 : 4:49 p.m.

The really stupid thing is that the University of Michigan has it's roots as a liberal arts institution. Perhaps a better topic would be "The Role and Future of Research at a Liberal Arts University".


Mon, May 20, 2013 : 5:30 p.m.

"The really stupid thing is that the University of Michigan has it's roots as a liberal arts institution. Perhaps a better topic would be "The Role and Future of Research at a Liberal Arts University". The above is wildly inaccurate: Michigan prides itself on having been the first institution in the 19th century (circa 1852 or so) to adopt the Prussian model which emphasized research over the classical curriculum. The classical curriculum was the standard of the day, thus, almost from its formation, Michigan has emphasized research. Even if not true, the point is that the university is diversifying its approach as to which fields of education should receive attention. The point should be less discussing the "from" and the "to" and more discussing the evolution.