The Business Case for Humanities Education

September 29, 2017

Heidi Bostic, dean of the College of Liberal Arts, and Ross Gittell, chancellor of the Community College System of New Hampshire (CCSNH), have written an article for New Hampshire Business Review about the importance of humanities skills to employers, and the steps UNH and CCSNH are taking to develop the competencies in students that businesses want. Surveys indicate that employers look for a broad set of skills, which include communication, critical thinking, empathy, ethical judgment and the ability to work well in teams — precisely the skills that liberal arts majors develop.

Read the article in New Hampshire Business Review:

The business case for humanities education: New university-community collaborative focuses on meeting the need for employees with a broader set of skills

UNH and CCSNH Receive Mellon Foundation Grant to Support the Humanities

February 10, 2017

humanities class in session

Thanks to a $824,000 grant over three years from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, the University of New Hampshire and the Community College System of New Hampshire (CCSNH) will establish the New Hampshire Humanities Collaborative to promote study of the humanities, support the transfer of community college students in the humanities to the university and develop a humanities curriculum focused on grand challenges.

“This collaborative will illuminate the value of the humanities for civic well-being and career advancement by communicating to students the role of the humanities in providing a well-rounded education experience,” said UNH President Mark Huddleston. “It will also allow us to expand our partnership with the state’s community colleges.”

Currently about 700 students transfer from community colleges in New Hampshire to University System of New Hampshire institutions each year. Of those, only three percent enroll in humanities majors compared to the more than 20 percent who enroll in STEM majors.

“We’ve successfully partnered to provide pathways for community college students to matriculate into four-year programs but those efforts to date have been primarily focused on the STEM fields,” said Ross Gittell, chancellor of CCSNH. “The support from the Mellon Foundation will help us to not only illustrate the purpose and value of the humanities, but enhance our curricula and provide pathways for more students to pursue associate and bachelor degrees in the humanities.”

According to Heidi Bostic, dean of the College of Liberal Arts at UNH, the value of a humanities education may not be evident to students, whether they are enrolled at community colleges or four-year universities. “The humanities are vital to our democracy and for addressing the grand challenges of our age, such as health care, urbanization, food sovereignty and the role of technology in human relations and discourse. Although these challenges are sometimes seen as the purview of STEM fields alone, the humanities are crucial for articulating relevant responses and enabling respectful civic discourse.”

The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation endeavors to strengthen, promote, and, where necessary, defend the contributions of the humanities and the arts to human flourishing and to the well-being of diverse and democratic societies.

UNH Announces New Liberal Arts Dean

December 8, 2015

Dr. Heidi Bostic

Heidi Bostic will assume leadership of the College of Liberal Arts at the University of New Hampshire on June 27, 2016, following the retirement of Dean Kenneth Fuld, who has served in that role, with distinction, for many years. Bostic is currently the inaugural director of interdisciplinary programs for the College of Arts and Sciences at Baylor University and chair of its department of modern languages and cultures.

“Heidi is a very talented scholar and leader, and has great experience fostering relationships between the humanities and the STEM disciplines,” said P.T. Vasudevan, interim provost and vice president for academic affairs. “Her no-nonsense approach and leadership experience will serve the college and the university well and help us to develop the strategic partnerships we need to expand career opportunities for students, and to enhance the college’s teaching and research portfolios. I am delighted that she has accepted our offer to be the next dean and will be working to advance the full mission of both the college and the university in serving the needs of the state.”

Bostic will begin her role this summer after more than six years at Baylor University where she is a professor of French. Prior to that she was at Michigan Technological University where she served as interim chair of the department of humanities, Concordia College in Minnesota and Minnesota State University. Earlier this year she was awarded the higher education administrator of the year award from the Texas Foreign Language Association, and was recently appointed to a three-year term on the Modern Language Association’s Committee on the Status of Women in the Profession.

As director of interdisciplinary programs at Baylor, Bostic chaired the organizing committee for the university’s first two symposiums on STEM and the humanities. She has worked collaboratively with colleagues to identify a vision statement and long-term goals for the role. As chair of the department of modern languages and cultures, she leads the largest academic department at Baylor with 80 faculty members serving 3,500 students a semester. Since 2009 she secured significant gifts for student study abroad scholarships, facilitated development of the department’s first-ever mission statement and strategic plan, led efforts to create a new major in Arabic and Middle East Studies, and grew the department by five faculty members.

“It will be an honor and a great privilege to serve as dean of the College of Liberal Arts,” said Bostic. “The college boasts outstanding faculty, staff, and students as well as innovative programs. The research enterprise is impressive, even more so combined with the excellence in teaching and community engagement that is a hallmark of liberal arts. I believe in the mission of UNH—that is, a public land-grant, sea-, and space-grant institution—and the absolutely central role of the liberal arts in fulfilling that mission. The college is especially well equipped to work across disciplines to address the grand challenges of today and tomorrow. Underlying all grand challenges are questions that are basic to liberal arts fields, namely: what does it mean to be human, and how can we live well together? Education, the fine and performing arts, humanities, and the social and behavioral sciences all have a significant role to play in answering these questions. I look forward to working with faculty, staff, and other stakeholders to foster continued excellence in the college.”

Vasudevan thanked the search committee, led by Peggy Vagts, professor of music, and Jon Wraith, dean of the College of Life Sciences and Agriculture, for its work to bring Bostic to campus.

The College of Liberal Arts is the largest of the five colleges on the Durham campus of the University of New Hampshire, serving 4,000 undergraduate students in 39 majors and 600 graduate students in six Ph.D. and 25 master’s programs. The college has 215 tenured and tenure track faculty and 125 full-time non-tenure track faculty across 15 departments and 20 interdisciplinary programs, in four divisions: humanities, social and behavioral sciences, education, and the fine and performing arts. The college also includes six research centers, which provide support for both individual scholars and multidisciplinary teams.

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