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In the news: between September 8 - 14, 2015

Tuesday, September 15, 2015

College of Liberal Arts & Sciences in the media between September 8 - 14, 2015

Finding value in a KU liberal arts degree despite an enrollment decline – University Daily Kansan

Christopher Downing, a 57-year-old San Diego resident, came to the University of Kansas in 1976 as an engineering major focused on electrical and computer sciences. However, during his first year, he realized something was missing in his education. He found the answer in a liberal arts degree.

"In engineering especially, there is always an answer you can arrive at and show how you got there," he said. "Liberal arts requires a different way of thinking. You think more about the relationships between things that, on the surface, don't appear related."

However, the College of Liberal Arts has seen a decline in enrollment in recent years. Paul Kelton, an associate dean, said the number of total credit hours students took within the college declined by roughly 15 percent, and the number of students majoring in a liberal arts field has fallen by around 16 percent since the spring semester of 2009.

To regain enrollment, Kristi Henderson, communications director for the college, said the college was taking an active role within departments and on social media to market the value of a liberal arts degree to prospective students. Kelton said the college was emphasizing beneficial skills that students may not realize they can get from a liberal arts degree.

“We, as faculty members in the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, are letting others do the speaking, and students are not really understanding when they come in what the value of a liberal arts degree really is,” Kelton said. “Employers are looking for students that can think critically, write well, communicate, solve complex problems, and those skills you can get in the college of liberal arts and sciences.”

The college also recently did away with a rule that required liberal arts majors to take 100 credit hours inside the college, Kelton said. The requirement made it difficult to double major in a liberal arts department and professional school. Kelton said he hopes the elimination of the rule will help increase enrollment.

The most recent data from the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences Destination Survey from 2012-13 found that 68.4 percent of graduates who responded were employed full time. Another 21.7 percent said they were pursuing higher education, while 6.9 percent said they were still seeking employment.

Over half of the graduates employed full time reported earning between $25,001 and $45,000 annually.

For comparison, 63 percent of University business school graduates reported being employed full time by graduation with a salary range of $20,000 to $72,000, according to a survey conducted by the National Association of Colleges and Employers from the same year.

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