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The liberal arts in the 21st century

November 14, 2010

Academic programs are about vital questions -- lots of them, from many perspectives, old and new -- but most importantly, conscious, intentional questions.

Transforming programs

Some of the most perennial are at the core of the liberal arts: What can I know? What ought I to do? What can I hope for? Where do I thrive? How do I experience beauty? What constitutes this "I"? But if our questions are perennial, our responses and educational programs need constant renewal. Many kinds of gifts have enabled the College of Liberal Arts to bring reinvigorated research and teaching programs into the 21st century.

Council Tree Endowment in Philosophy

Stephen Hillard established the Council Tree Endowment in Philosophy with a twofold purpose. He wanted to honor a special teacher: “Bernie Rollin, at right, was more than a mentor; he was an inspiration.” But Hillard also sought to benefit the philosophy department in whatever ways would best serve the current needs of faculty and students. He provided that earnings could be allocated at the discretion of the department. He describes the gift as a kind of reciprocity:

“In the years since I graduated from CSU, I’ve learned two key things: the immense value of the education I received and the honor and importance of giving back. The Council Tree Fund (named after a gathering place of the Ute Nation near Delta, Colo.) was a first step toward repaying the debt I owe my alma mater.”

Flood Memorial Research Fund

Memorial endowments support research programs as well as teaching. A recent case-in-point honors Charleen B. Flood, a medical technologist and lover of music who lived with Parkinson’s disease for the last 20 years of her life. Her husband, Don, and their children created the Flood Memorial Research Fund in the Center for Biomedical Research in Music to facilitate the center’s research in neurologic music therapy. Director Michael Thaut notes that the fund “is invaluable in helping to study how to reduce or prevent falls in people with Parkinson’s disease through gait training using rhythmic auditory stimulation. The Flood gift also helped the center secure matching funds from the Davis Phinney Foundation, which is committed to improving the lives of people with Parkinson’s disease.”

Robert Cavarra Endowment

The Robert Cavarra Endowment supports creative activity in the music department’s program in organ and liturgical studies. The University’s magnificent Casavant organ, originally designed by Cavarra in the 1960s and built in the style of the Northern German organs of the 17th and 18th centuries, has been installed in its new space in the Organ Recital Hall at the University Center for the Arts.

As part of the organ’s 2009 rededication, Barbara Cavarra looked for an opportunity to continue the tradition of her late husband’s commitment to the arts at CSU. She created this endowment to bring renowned guest organists to CSU to play and teach. Plans are under way to bring the first of these guests in Fall 2010.

Organist Joel Bacon welcomed the gift, remarking that he is “especially excited for the impact it will have on my students, as they get to experience worldclass performers and study with them. Serious music study thrives on such experiences.”

Bimson Humanities Seminars

Another memorial endowment honors Carl A. Bimson, who attended Colorado A&M from 1920 to 1923. A bequest from his estate supports the Bimson Humanities Seminars, workshops that bring together K-12 and University faculty around a series of topics that change each time the seminar is offered. Past seminars have included:

  • “Educating Democracy”
  • “Canada, Africa, and the Caribbean: Approache to Francophone Literature and Culture”
  • “Learning and Teaching Ethnicity in Colorado”
  • “The Three Gorges Dam Project”
  • “India: Diversity of Cultural Identities,
  • “Learning and Teaching From the Field: Hudson-Meng and the Multidisciplinary Nature of Archeological Research”
  • “Learning the  World Through Literature”

Seminars typically include 15 to 30 participants meeting for approximately six days during the academic year or in the summer.

Participants have come from as far south as Cherry Creek School District in Denver and as near as Poudre School District in Fort Collins, although there are no restrictions on where participants work. Eventually, we hope this program can help CSU connect with more neglected populations and parts of the state. Curriculum materials, collaborative research, and joint publications are possible outcomes of the seminars.

Beverly Kees Journalist-in-Residence Program

A newly established program endows the Beverly Kees Journalist-in-Residence Program, which will bring professionals to campus each year for up to a week at a time to share the latest knowledge about quickly changing trends and practices in journalism. Department chair Greg Luft explains this fund is a memorial: “Kees was a journalist-in-residence at CSU in the 1980s who inspired a graduate of the program to create this fund when Kees was killed in a traffic accident.”

Orginally published in the College of Liberal Arts newsletter, Fall 2010.