Chairman of William & Mary calls out Gov. Rick Scott over value of liberal arts education

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Jeffrey B. Trammell, the chairman of the board of visitors (the governing body) at The College of William & Mary takes on Gov. Rick Scott and others who would emphasize science and technology education over the liberal arts.

“Today the value of a liberal arts education is being questioned. One high-profile critic is Florida Governor Rick Scott, who famously slammed anthropology majors as being unprepared for productive careers. (His daughter holds a degree in anthropology from William & Mary, where our renowned anthropology department has long been involved in revealing the history of nearby Jamestown and other parts of our colonial heritage.)

Governor Scott called for steering his state’s educational funding away from the liberal arts. He and fellow critics question the value of investing in liberal arts education, as they fail to see immediate, tangible benefits for society.”

But those of us who serve on governing boards should be aware that Scott’s analysis is short-sighted. A 2008 study by Duke University and Harvard University surveyed the CEOs and heads of product engineering at 502 technology companies. The researchers found that while 92 percent held bachelor’s degrees or higher, only 37 percent held degrees in engineering or computer technology. Clearly vocation-focused education, advocated by Scott, was not the path to success for many technology leaders.

Moreover, when it comes to how the American economy benefits from the liberal arts, we should listen to what Tom Friedman and Steve Jobs have said.

Read the rest of Trammell’s op-ed here.

Peter Schorsch is the President of Extensive Enterprises and is the publisher of some of Florida’s most influential new media websites, including SaintPetersBlog.com, FloridaPolitics.com, ContextFlorida.com, and Sunburn, the morning read of what’s hot in Florida politics. SaintPetersBlog has for three years running been ranked by the Washington Post as the best state-based blog in Florida. In addition to his publishing efforts, Peter is a political consultant to several of the state’s largest governmental affairs and public relations firms. Peter lives in St. Petersburg with his wife, Michelle, and their daughter, Ella.