As the world becomes increasingly technologically advanced and globally interdependent, we need the liberal arts more than ever before. They are the foundation of all academic learning.
We need the disciplinary knowledge of the liberal arts, their interdisciplinary connections and discoveries, and their insights. A world without the liberal arts risks being a world without values, without beauty, imagination, or pleasure--a world bereft of history, language, the arts, and any understanding of the complex social, economic, and political networks in which we live our lives, both professionally and personally. The liberal arts inspire; they enunciate the social, intellectual and aesthetic ideals we expect technology to serve. They are the intellectual treasures we human beings cherish and share around the globe.
This College of Liberal Arts is the achievement of more than a century of distinguished scholarship and creativity; I am proud and honored to be its new dean. In large measure, the reputation of the University rests on CLA - its largest college - and on the distinctive way in which we reach our highest ambitions.
My goal is to foster a unity that enables the college to remain creatively agile and astonishingly productive, and to shape an exemplary academic collective. I envision the college as
... a place where students benefit from an extraordinary college experience, learn from each other, receive professional and disciplinary training for their postgraduate careers, and assume responsibility for continued intellectual growth;
... a place where researchers and artists have the resources to achieve their most creative ideas, and learn and collaborate with each other within and across disciplines, in both a local and a global context;
... a place where faculty, students, and staff are so diverse that everyone embraces diversity as the foundation for academic excellence without question or hesitation;
... a place where the external community and alumni regard the college as a vibrant partner for continued collaboration in research and teaching.
All institutions of higher learning are facing external fiscal challenges as the first decade of the 21st century ends. Challenging times provide opportunities to reexamine and refocus our educational and research mission. I am confident that, regardless of external challenges, we have the talent, creativity, and commitment to accomplish our aspirations. Of course, we will need our friends in Minnesota and around the world to support our efforts, as they have so faithfully for over a century.
Together we can fulfill the promise of the liberal arts: to prepare the next generation to see clearly in a changing and uncertain world, to be original and independent thinkers, and to bring intellectual leadership to bear in a humane democracy.
Thank you for your continued support, and best wishes for a happy New Year!
James A. Parente, Jr.
Professor of German, Scandinavian and Dutch
PHOTO: Kelly MacWILLIAMS