Sweet Briar closing a loss for liberal arts.

Sweet Briar College. Image courtesy of Meridith De Avila Khan/Sweet Briar College.

Mount Holyoke alumna and president of the Association of American Colleges and Universities Carol Geary Schneider '67 blogged about the closing of Sweet Briar College and about the need for a “far-reaching redesign of liberal and liberal arts education.”

She noted that women’s colleges are not only relevant but also essential now more than ever.

"I am saddened this week, as so many educators are, to hear the news of Sweet Briar’s closing—all the more so because I am myself a proud graduate of a women’s college" she wrote. "But my sadness is tempered by a strong conviction that liberal arts colleges—including my own alma mater, Mount Holyoke College—are already leading a far-reaching redesign of liberal and liberal arts education that makes this design for learning more valuable than ever, for students and for a dynamic democracy."

"Colleges that advance the enduring goals of a high-quality liberal arts education through creative, adaptive, and globally minded practices will not only survive, but thrive," she wrote. "And they will continue to set the standard for quality across both U.S. higher education and the global community." 

Noting that the key to survival is "continuing vitality," Schneider suggests that while the three broad goals of liberal arts education remain the same—big picture knowledge about the wider world, well-developed powers of the mind, and examined commitments to ethical and social responsibility—institutional approaches to meeting them must continue to adapt.

"Today, colleges like Mount Holyoke are setting the pace for creative reinvention by connecting the liberal arts and sciences to the world’s most important challenges," she said. "They are making the community—local and global—an important catalyst for learning." 

"I am both heartened and inspired by the creative educational leadership now emerging from liberal arts institutions—including some of the nation’s most distinguished women’s institutions," she wrote. "So even as we mourn the loss of Sweet Briar, we should all take heart that this sad tale is an exception, not a portent.” Read the full blog post here.