A frequent writer of op-eds, letters to the editor, and reviews, Mount Holyoke College president Joanne Creighton is an outspoken champion of the American liberal arts tradition who believes that such an education is "at its best, revolutionary." "It transforms students," she wrote in a recent Springfield [MA] Sunday Republicanopinion piece; "it awakens them to a fuller life of the mind . . ." And on today's campuses, says Creighton, a diverse student population is necessary to enhance the breadth of that learning.
In a recent review in the Journal of Blacks in Higher Educationof The Big Test: The Secret History of the American Meritocracy,by Nicholas Lemann, Creighton praised Lemann's "deeply researched" criticisms of the Scholastic Aptitude Test, which he sees as an unreliable tool for selecting many college applicants. Creighton argued, however, against his attacks on selective colleges, noting that "some differentiation" among educational institutions in "quality and mission is good and inevitable."
Creighton's contributions to the SAT debate were further articulated in the Boston Globe,where she contended that SAT scores should be used only as one instrument among many in judging an applicant.
In recent letters to the New Republic,Creighton defended affirmative action practices, noting, "Diversity is an essential component of education; it helps to bring the expanding spectrum of cultural and ethnic perspectives and concerns animating our society into the classroom."
When the New York Timespublished a January article questioning why college and university presidents are not heard from more often on issues like affirmative action, Creighton replied with a letter asking, in turn, "Why do the media appear to spend less time listening to what educational leaders have to say?"
Creighton became president of Mount Holyoke in 1996, after twenty-five years as a teacher and literary scholar. She previously served as interim president and professor of English at Wesleyan University, and is the author of four books, including two critical texts on author Joyce Carol Oates. Last year she reviewed Oates's novel My Heart Laid Barefor the Chicago Tribune.