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Joe Urgo

Urgo Op-ed Published in University Business

“Concerning Value: A Small College Liberal Arts Education”

By Vige Barrie
Posted March 22, 2010
Tags Dean of Faculty Hamilton In the News Joseph Urgo
An opinion piece titled “Concerning Value: A Small College Liberal Arts Education,” written by Dean of Faculty Joe Urgo, appears in the March issue of University Business magazine. In his article, subtitled “Asking what's the appropriate level for this investment,” Urgo acknowledged that, “With comprehensive fees for a residential liberal arts education reaching or surpassing $50,000 per year, more and more people are asking the question: Is it really worth that much money to educate anybody, anywhere, at any time? Are the minds of ambitious, intellectually driven young people worth it?”

Urgo focused his analysis away from concrete quantification. “Because a liberal arts education cannot be monetized and exchanged, the question of its dollar value is the wrong question to ask,” wrote Urgo. “The appropriate question is: what is the value of the setting in which the liberal arts education is pursued, and are there students and families who find that setting worth the monetary sacrifice? How much training, support, social opportunity, and community experience do we think it appropriate to provide those who will be leading our society in the future?”

In his conclusion Urgo summarized his valuation of the liberal arts education, “A liberal arts education never ends with commencement. Instead, graduation day commences a life of self-education and refinement, rooted in the memory of four years of intense intellectual journey, often in a pastoral setting, safely bubbled away from the world of commerce, where the student acquired the capacity to fulfill a lifelong journey of the mind. And on it goes, long after the tuition is paid, value accrues in one's sense of a life worth living, wholly apart from the exchange of money.”

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