Date of this Version
Published in Journal of the National Collegiate Honors Council, Fall/Winter 2015, Volume 16, Number 2.
One of the most profound statements in James Herbert’s lead essay— simple as it seems at the very beginning of his piece—concerns his discovery early in his career that “a liberal education in honors was good preparation for life.” At Columbia College, where I have the privilege of serving as President, such a statement is life blood, and our honors program is at the front of our efforts to maintain a strong emphasis on the value of liberal learning while addressing the many challenges all of our institutions face today in the changing landscape of higher education. Liberal learning and the liberal arts are, indeed, at the core of our mission while we also strive to prepare students for life after college, whether they decide to pursue other degrees, begin a professional career, enter the job market, serve their various communities, or even backpack around the world. We ask our students to step up as learners and leaders and step out as individuals with a strong sense of identity and purpose. We want that stepping to occur in all our efforts, but we know that in our honors program we are dancing with the stars, the kinds of motivated, high-achieving, creative, and talented young women unafraid of taking risks and accepting challenges in order to make the program and our college proud. Liberal education as “preparation for life” is what honors is about, and our program is one of the college’s crown jewels in making such rich and practical learning a reality.