More than 60 Academic Leaders Meet to Explore Idea of New Coalition for the Liberal Arts

July 5, 2012

“Higher education is more than a credentialing process,” says Michael Zimmerman, academic vice president and provost of The Evergreen State College. “What we need is to re-emphasize the demonstrated, research-supported, and obvious role that liberal arts plays in today’s world, a world where the ability to think strategically, across disciplinary boundaries and creatively is the premium value arising from higher education. Liberal arts graduates strengthen Washington’s economy and help transform communities.”

Ideas like this will be the subject of conversation as more than 60 academic leaders throughout the state converge on The Evergreen State College in Olympia on July 19 to discuss steps toward building a coalition and action plan to advocate for liberal arts education in Washington.

Washington State House Democrat and educational leader, Mary Helen Roberts, will be the keynote speaker at the event, providing her observations on the value and importance of the liberal arts and the state of education in the State of Washington more generally.

Michael Zimmerman, who is convening the meeting at Evergreen, sees it as an opportunity to renew the discussion on liberal arts, particularly its important role in the changing global and Washington State economy and society.

“As a biologist and a representative of a college with a vibrant scientific community, I am an advocate for scientific and technological disciplines, but the State of Washington also has to broaden its support and recognize the energy and foundational value that the wider range of liberal arts brings to civil society and the creative economy. If higher education becomes one-dimensional, we all suffer.”

Zimmerman is enthused by the immediate and positive response he has received in regard to the event. “Being new to the state, I reached out to academic leaders across the state, from both public and private institutions, to see if we could help shape the dialogue about higher education. The response overwhelmed me! More than 60 administrators have decided to bring this to the forefront of their institutional agendas and attend this organizational meeting.”

The ‘Liberal Arts Washington’ meeting takes place from 9:30 a.m. to 3 p.m. on July 19 at The Evergreen State College campus located at 2700 Evergreen Parkway NW, Olympia.