September 28, 2017

Universities: Stand up to Bevin

Governor Matt Bevin speaks at rally.

By Tucker Warren — 

In a speech at a higher education conference, Governor Matt Bevin suggested Kentucky universities should consider making cuts to their arts departments. Bevin said many of these programs are “not helping to produce that 21st century educated workforce.”

He went as far as to say the buildings used for these programs were not “assets of any value.”

That’s comical, considering Bevin has a Bachelor’s of Arts Degree in East-Asian Studies. A program through which he was able to study abroad in Japan, becoming fluent in Japanese. Without this degree, it could easily be said that Bevin would not have acquired the well-rounded education he needed to be the businessman or politician he is today.

Bevin said, “If you’re studying interpretive dance, God bless you, but there’s not a lot of jobs right now in America looking for people with that as a skill set.”

These suggestions come when the state is trying to fix its public pension systems. Economists estimate that Kentucky will experience a $200 million shortfall at the end of this fiscal year in 2018.

Bevin believes these changes he suggests are for the good of Kentucky graduates and their futures.

In a recent survey by the Association of American Colleges and Universities, 91 percent of employers agreed that for career success “a candidate’s demonstrated capacity to think critically, communicate clearly and solve complex problems is more important than his or her undergraduate major.”

This tells us that employers do not want graduates with specific degrees. Employers want graduates who majored in a field that help to make them into the best working versions of themselves. For some, that field is engineering or biology. For others, it may be french literature or, perhaps, east-asian studies.

In a recent interview with Louisville Insider, Susan Jarosi, president of U of L’s American Association of University Professors, said “even if you are a person that wants to value advanced manufacturing and engineering, people who work in those fields and teach those fields understand that the best engineers communicate with and learn from a wide variety of experts. And that includes experts in what Bevin would describe as un-valuable disciplines or even liberal arts disciplines.”

Many professors and students see education that way.

They deserve to strive for their highest levels of knowledge and to distribute that in any way they feel necessary. The students and professors who have dedicated their lives to the arts don’t deserve to have those hopes cut short and redirected.

There is no difference between a passion for mechanics and a passion for painting — a passion is a passion, it drives us all. If we take away these people’s passions, their drive will be taken too. And that isn’t good for anybody.

To suggest people must renounce their American dreams for the sake of capitalism and practicality is ignorant, and to suggest America would still be America if its people wanted the same things is even more ignorant.

This country was built on a foundation of conflicting interests and opinions. It’s this diversity and subtle struggle of ideas which keeps this country immovable.

Each college and university in Kentucky now has to determine what they stand for. Some will stand for the full education of America and the generation of new ideas. Others will simply become more American businesses.

One thing for sure is that the student-bodies of each of these colleges and universities are encouraged to not sit idly while the powers-that-be make these decisions for them.

File Photo / The Louisville Cardinal

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