The College of Liberal Arts was created in 1929 after school superintendents, who were impressed with the teachers from Kent State, insisted that such a quality undergraduate education be available to their students who were interested in pursuing other careers. This resulted in a grassroots movement of service clubs, chambers of commerce, American Legion posts, and many civic organizations to bring a liberal arts college to northeast Ohio. The College was established with two objectives: to provide the opportunity for contact with a variety of fields of human knowledge necessary for general culture and to provide the opportunity for special study in the field of the student’s individual interest.
Karl Leebrick, President of Kent State University from 1938-43, advocated that the College of Liberal Arts become, in his words, “the backbone of the university.” He reorganized the university into 3 colleges, liberal arts, education, and business, but insisted that the College of Liberal Arts hold the central position of the university.
In 1956 the College of Liberal Arts was renamed the College of Arts & Sciences and grouped into the Humanities, the Social Sciences, and the Natural Sciences and Mathematics. Currently, the College of Arts and Sciences houses 19 departments. It offers 32 Bachelor of Arts majors, 18 Bachelor of Science majors and 54 minors. At the graduate level, we offer Masters degrees in 40 programs and Doctorates in 13 disciplines. The College has long appreciated and taken advantage of the interrelationships among the Humanities, Social Sciences, and Natural Sciences. There are currently 10 interdisciplinary undergraduate majors and 24 interdisciplinary minors. No matter what major a student chooses, the first year of each student’s academic career is spent mostly in courses from the College of Arts and Sciences learning basic writing, quantitative, and critical thinking skills. The College also provides the vast majority of diversity courses, many times giving students their first exposure to cultures other than their own.
The tradition of the liberal arts and sciences at Kent State extends beyond the undergraduate program to the graduate program. The Master’s program in Liberal Studies, housed in Arts & Sciences, encourages students to continue, or return to, studies that integrate several disciplines. They find their own unifying theme for their individual programs, follow their intellectual curiosity beyond the boundaries of specialization, and recharge their imaginations with the energy of a great tradition.
As we continue the next 80 years of delivering a liberal arts education, the College remains dedicated to the pursuit of human excellence. We continue to devote our lives to educating a person rather than training a worker. The Woodrow Wilson Foundation states that short-sighted careerism is impractical as well as intellectually narrow and predicts that as jobs quickly become outmoded in the 21st century, careers will depend on the capacity for quantitative, literary, historical, and scientific thinking—the very foundations of a liberal arts education. As a College, we take our role as the backbone of this university very seriously. The College of Arts and Sciences may be old-fashioned in continuing to hold fast to traditional values, but the liberal education it provides is as important to the students in the professional programs as it is to the students in our own college. We thank you for your interest in the College of Arts & Sciences.