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The President's family reflects on the liberal arts

A residential liberal arts college strengthens its students holistically. Rather than merely focusing on the technical job skills, a liberal arts college trains capable people with exceptional minds. A liberal arts college will teach students how to think critically and develop a meaningful philosophy for life. From this base, any number of skills and abilities are easier to grasp. A liberal arts education will help you in your life's calling, regardless of what your career or the economy might do.

Daniel Bahls
Williams College
Williamstown, Massachusetts
Class of 2004

Life is like an overgrown forest - the most obvious direction is not necessarily the best. Getting a liberal arts education is like going a short distance down many paths before choosing. There are too many ways to go to choose at a moment's notice. A traveler might find an angry animal down one path or a cool mountain spring down the next - it's hard to tell where a path leads without exploring it first. And exploration is rewarding in itself - travelers learn about what they truly value and who they really are. A liberal arts education is like traveling through a forest, crossing streams, scouting difficulty and enjoying the sunshine of knowledge.

Timothy Bahls
Middlebury College
Middlebury, Vermont
Class of 2006

When I taught religious studies courses at Alverno College, I concluded that the real value of a liberal arts education is not absorbing a particular body of knowledge, but developing competence in analysis, communication, problem solving, valuing, social interaction and aesthetic response-skills one develops in the process of digging into and responding to the humanities, arts and sciences.

I have seen that truth play out in my own life. My own liberal arts education not only broadened my horizons, it gave me skills that have allowed me to adapt to varied careers: graduate study in philosophy of religion; teaching college courses in philosophy, religion and integrated arts and humanities; directing a church school and a mid-week children's ministry; and 18 years of writing magazine articles on topics from travel to faith development to law and business. More importantly, I gained a perspective on life that helps me see things form other points of view, ask questions that need to be asked, and work on finding solutions.

Jane Easter Bahls
Cornell College
Mt. Vernon, Iowa
Class of 1976