School of Liberal Arts

Deans' Response to Verdict on the Murder of George Floyd

As Deans of the four academic schools at Saint Mary’s College, we continue to be troubled by the evidence of social injustice in our society, including our institutions of higher education.  The guilty verdict in the Derek Chauvin trial pushes us to continue the pursuit of dismantling the systems of injustice that we consciously and unconsciously participate in.  As academic leaders we recognize our responsibility to advocate for an education that acknowledges systemic racial injustice in our institutions and the need to support dialogue in the pursuit of solutions and actions to end it.

As a Catholic and Lasallian institution, our mission requires us to “to affirm and foster the Christian understanding of the human person,” a commitment that informs and inspires   our support for the Black Lives Matter movement.  We are energized by the empathy, solidarity, and humanizing commitments that define our SMC community.  As an educational community we are positioned to combat systemic injustice, discrimination, and racism in our society by championing the principles of diversity, equity, compassion, and universal humanity. 

Our commitment  to combat systemic racism does not exempt us from responsibility for our own failures.  Systems of oppression are present throughout  higher education.  We  need to exercise critical self-reflection in assessing our privileges and correcting our own inherent biases as we support an education that creates leaders who will forge a brighter future for humanity.  As deans, we are committed to reflecting on and improving our own practices in relation to racial inequity, to listening to our community for stories of discrimination and pain, and gathering ideas from faculty, staff and students about appropriate and effective actions that we can take to build a more just and inclusive community.


Elizabeth Davis, Dean of the School of Economics and Business Administration

Carol Ann Gittens, Dean of the Kalmanovitz School of Education

Sheila Hassell Hughes, Dean of the School of Liberal Arts

Roy Wensley, Dean of the School of Science



Living on the Liberal Arts

The liberal arts provide an excellent foundation for a life well-lived: they promote critical thinking, creativity, a love of, and the skills necessary for, life-long learning. They instill empathy, imagination, and articulate self-expression. As one recent study has shown, liberally educated graduates are more likely to “be leaders, show interest in arts and culture, be viewed as ethical, and report fulfillment and happiness.” This is because the liberal arts engage, inspire, and challenge our minds, hearts, and souls. They teach us how to embrace and value the arts, understand social, historical, and rhetorical contexts and processes, recognize that all human activity and experience is deeply interconnected, and appreciate that democracy is a practice, not a given.  The liberal arts make us more human, and, as liberating arts, they make us more free.

Those with little understanding or experience of the liberal arts sometimes represent this kind of education as a luxury reserved for those who can afford underemployment. Far from it!  The liberal arts lead to excellent post-graduation opportunities and outcomes. Research demonstrates, for example, that the “soft skills” that our programs foster are those that business and the tech industry seek; many leaders in the public and private sectors have liberal arts degrees; and while humanities and social science graduates earn a little less than professional and pre-professional majors right out of college, they actually outpace them over time, earning more in their peak income years. In addition, liberal arts majors are more likely to earn advanced degrees, which significantly increase lifetime earnings.

In the School of Liberal Arts, graduates of our humanities, social sciences, and creative and performing arts programs are succeeding professionally, changing the world, and experiencing deep personal fulfillment in doing so. They are, in short, living well on the liberal arts! Click here for more information and evidence about getting a job, making a difference, and making a life as a liberal arts graduate.