Page 8

Linfield Magazine Spring 2017

8 - l i n f i e l d m a g a z i n e Spring 2017 “In the coming months and years, we must redouble our efforts to educate the public on the value and the values of the liberal arts.” – thomas l. hellie “College has always had two important roles,” he says. “The first is intellectual, social, spiritual, the teaching of integrity and responsibility. The second is around the skills required for a successful professional life. The ascendance of the second, transactional narrative has come at the expense of the first, transformational one.” It’s a false choice, McGee says, because it turns out soul craft is also good for the career. The Brookings Institution recently used results from the American Community Survey to analyze lifetime earnings for graduates of 80 majors. In the first five years after graduation, it found, graduates with technical degrees almost universally out-earned their liberal arts classmates. The advantage diminished over time, however. Liberal arts graduates often attend graduate school and are attracted to relatively highpaying professions such as management, law and sales, so that the averages tended to converge over time. A number of salary surveys have noted that by late career, liberal arts majors often out-perform their peers who graduated with specific technical skills. That’s at least in part, noted Kimball of Cal Lutheran, because a liberal arts education tends to develop the kind of traits that serve a person well over a career, including strong reading and writing skills and an appreciation for a wide range of disciplines. Liberal arts graduates learn how to learn and adapt. Over time, that’s often more valuable than technical skills that will have to be re-learned every few years. Glen Giovannetti ’84, the Global Biotechnology Leader at EY (formerly Ernst & Young) and a Linfield trustee, says a narrow, skills-based education will increasingly be undercut by automation and, eventually, artificial intelligence. His firm is researching the future of the workforce. “As more jobs – including white collar and service jobs – are automated, the ability to bring human judgment and interpersonal skills to a problem will be even more valuable,” he adds. “Someone who can provide relationship building and critical thinking and can write and speak well, skills that aren’t emphasized in a more technical education, that is a person who can do something a machine cannot do.” Even in the business world of the present, Giovannetti says, “you may have equal credentials, but there is a real separation among people who can write and think critically.” Liberal arts graduates, in other words. For colleges like Linfield, there’s an imperative to keep working hard on the transformational part of the mission. The college’s small class sizes, faculty-advising model, residential setting and tradition of hands-on research and learning are helpful toward that end, but a rigorous, mission-driven focus on priorities is required, too. There’s also, though, a second imperative. Linfield, like other private liberal arts institutions, needs to be more aggressive in telling its story to the world. Rather than waiting for a narrative to be imposed from the outside, the college needs to be out telling people what it does and why it matters. “In the coming months and years, we must redouble our efforts to educate the public on the value and the values of the liberal arts,” says Hellie. “This is not only vital to the future of Linfield, it’s important for the future of our country and our world.” – Scott Bernard Nelson ’94


Linfield Magazine Spring 2017
To see the actual publication please follow the link above