Liberal Arts And The Four-Year Guarantee

By Dr. Robert W. Pearigen

In an article from the August 17, 2015 issue of Forbes magazine, author George Anders writes of the increasing value of a liberal arts background in today’s tech industry, remarking “software companies are discovering that liberal arts thinking makes them stronger.”


PearigenAt a time when proponents of STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math) training are finding eager audiences of parents and students, it’s important to note the demand that remains for employees grounded in the liberal arts that, traditionally, have included the humanities, arts, and social sciences along with mathematics and the natural sciences. A growing number of C-level executives are calling for greater STEAM education (adding an A for arts), and advocating for the value of the arts and humanities in today’s workplace.

A liberal arts education develops and encourages the ability to discern, analyze, question, communicate, and challenge. While the liberal arts have always been a cornerstone of a Millsaps College education, we have now woven this approach to learning into the fabric of our innovative Compass Curriculum, which is now a requirement for all incoming first-year students.

The Compass Curriculum provides the skills and abilities that our students need to thrive in an ever-changing world coupled with a broad, rich education that focuses on STEM fields, humanities, understanding the social world, non-native languages and business skills that allow students to navigate our increasingly interconnected society.

Furthermore, our curriculum, combined with our central location in the capital city of our state, ensures our students are socially conscious, civically engaged, and able to integrate their personal values with their professional responsibilities.

We know this educational approach will prove valuable as our students learn over the next four years and prepare for their working careers. Many of our students will choose careers in medicine, law, business, science, or education, but many graduates will also find themselves working in jobs that do not exist today and will benefit from the adaptability and flexibility offered by a liberal arts background.

It is equally important to offer students and parents the value of completing this course of study in a four-year period. They want to see a return on their investment in a college education, and the ability to earn a degree and enter the job market in four years should be the norm rather than the exception.

According to the National Center for Education Statistics, Millsaps College has the highest four-year graduation rate of any college or university in Mississippi – more than one and a half times that of the next highest school. And, with the Compass Curriculum, we continue to provide a clear path to graduation in four years.

Just as we remain focused on the long-term value of a Millsaps education, we are committed to guarantee students who meet basic course load and performance requirements will graduate in four years – or we will waive tuition and fees on courses required to complete a bachelor’s degree. This has been a standard expectation at Millsaps since our origin 125 years ago, and our new guarantee simply formalizes what we have always done.

The diverse global environment into which our graduates enter demands their very best. The young women and men we teach today expect and deserve an education that gives them the knowledge, skills, and practical experience to succeed in their career and make a difference in their communities. We know we can provide this education at Millsaps.

In fact, we guarantee it!

(Dr. Robert W. Pearigen is the eleventh president of Millsaps College, located in Jackson, Mississippi.)

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