Distinguished Speaker Continues At SUNY New Paltz

Deborah Humphreys
Deborah Humphreys

The Distinguished Speaker Series announced that the spring 2012 speaker will be Dr. Deborah Humphreys, vice president for communications and public affairs at the Association of American Colleges and Universities (AACU).

The Distinguished Speakers Series happens twice a year and began on Nov. 12, 2008 according to newpaltz.edu. Humphreys’ presentation will be on April 12 as part of New Paltz’s week of events honoring SUNY New Paltz President Dr. Donald Christian’s inauguration.

Humphreys will be discussing data from surveys from Liberal Education and America’s Promise (LEAP) and putting the national information in context for SUNY schools. LEAP is a national initiative by AACU asking employers what they expect of recent graduates and the qualities they look for during the hiring process.

Through LEAP, AACU is hoping to change the curriculum of hundreds of schools to meet the needs of employers.

“Your college major may matter a lot less than people may think,” Humphreys said. “What really matters is that you’re able to go out with a broad enough set of tools and abilities to enable you to deal with change over time — because what we really know above all else is that the global economy is changing rapidly.”

Humphreys will be speaking about the importance of having a liberal arts education and how professors can redesign the curriculum to better suit undergraduate students. She said all students are expected to develop skills and knowledge that span across disciplines.

“What is most important for long-term success in this global economy is the combination of the broad skills and knowledge that one gets from a liberal education and as much practice as one can develop in applying this knowledge and skills in the real world setting,” Humphreys said. “That kind of multiplicity of talent is important in every field.”

Humphreys said her external prospective and larger national trends are important, but the best thing about this event is that the Liberal Education Ad Hoc Committee will be working to better address the liberal arts program and help students advance in the future.

The Ad Hoc Committee consists of 18 faculty members and two students. The committee’s job is to create a proposal for an updated curriculum, third-year Women Studies major and student representative Petra Vega said.

They are focusing on creating interesting courses for the general education program. The committee feels the courses students take should not only be vital and challenging but should sharpen core skills, according to Stella Dean committee chair.

“Some things that were proposed were civil engagement focuses on world issues, freshman seminar for everyone, life-long learning attribute things, ethical reasoning, stronger reading and writing etc.,” Vega said. “These are things we want the student body to get from their GE requirements.”