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Thomas W. & Robin W. Edwards College of Humanities & Fine Arts

Welcome to the Thomas W. & Robin W. Edwards College of Humanities and Fine Arts.  In this college, we stress the values of intellectual vitality, moral agency, aesthetic appreciation, and creative engagement inside and outside the classroom. If you are a student, we will work with you to sharpen your skills in careful reading, clear thinking, close observation, effective writing, and persuasive argument.  We believe students can be the makers of the world they inhabit, and our mission is to prepare each of you to live a thoughtful and fulfilling life as a responsible and responsive human being and citizen.

A college is more than a collection of departments, more than the conjunction of students learning and faculty teaching.  We are also a center of culture and research, a place where the community can gather for events of artistic, intellectual, and civic import.  Thus, one of the functions of the Edwards College is to contribute to the world’s conversations.  We have faculty who are nationally-known experts in their respective fields, yet our best faculty know that their ability to share expertise with students just discovering their talents will make a difference. We invite our students to the best conversations: talks about color and harmony, tragedy and farce, rights and laws.

Through the courses we offer and the programs we support, students learn that competence in the liberal, visual, or performing arts – in philosophy, sculpture, history, photography, music (the list goes on) – is necessary to improve the world in which we live. The humanities and fine arts are not nice concepts that we enjoy in leisure after the real work of the world is done. They are the real work of the world.

As Dean, I see this relationship between the work of our College and its impact in our region most visibly when we welcome community members to our campus to enjoy the arts.  From exhibitions in the Rebecca Randall Art Gallery to the performances of our award-winning music and theatre students and faculty, it is gratifying to see the enthusiastic support our arts programs receive from the citizens of our region. While young people can usually count on the unqualified support of a parent or grandparent, when they receive the accolades of an audience of strangers, they often take a significant step in mastery of their discipline. And in return for the support of the community, the college creates cultural opportunities that enrich life in our region. 

One of the reasons I love my job is that every day I am surrounded by faculty and students busy with acts of creation and discovery. Poets and painters and political scientists (and assorted polemicists!) interact daily in the Edwards College, and while the brush of ideas is not always without friction, the results are usually enlightening and often provocative. Behind almost every office door, there is a professional who has spent years mastering a discipline, and that person’s wish is to bring that experience to bear at a place where it can lever the world forward a bit.  Sometimes we make progress by adding to the beauty of the universe, other times because we can advance a public policy debate. Oftentimes we can bring attention to that which is neglected, or appreciate better some accomplishment of the past. Every once in a while a scholar or artist gains some great achievement or precipitates some vault of progress, but other times they work in shades of refinement and an incremental clarification, secure that such work will contribute to the sum of human knowledge and accomplishment.  Those are lofty claims, but we are in the business of big ideas and great expectations.  When you work with young people, you’d better be.

Daniel J. Ennis

Dean

Thomas W. and Robin W. Edwards College of Humanities and Fine Arts