President Phil Stone sat down with Chronicle of Higher Education reporter Steve Kolowich and videographer Julia Schmalz this week for an extended interview. Among several topics, President Stone spoke of the value of preserving the liberal arts while balancing career preparation in higher education. At Sweet Briar, he says, he found an unusual approach he’d like to see more often.
“I think the Sweet Briar experiment really reflects a kind of creativity that I hope other liberal arts colleges are doing more of,” Stone said in the third of three video installments. “Which is to have a student come in and say, ‘I’m interested in physics, but I’m also interested in ballet. Can I put a major together that helps me advance in both those areas?’ They might never dance professionally, they might not stay with physics. They might be a corporate manager.
“But they’re going to have a way to vent that passion that they’re feeling and develop both artistically and intellectually in a holistic way in a liberal arts environment. That, we think is worth fighting for. And we will keep that.”
He cites as an example of cross-disciplinary collaboration a book produced by a faculty biologist who studies the campus’ population of spotted salamanders and an art professor and students who illustrated the work.
“It’s a fabulous little book,” Stone said. “It’s not real expensive, but look at the creativity caught up in a biologist and an artist saying, ‘How could we help the reader interpret this material in a better way?’ I think so much of that is going on here at Sweet Briar.”
See all three videos here.