School of Humanities and Social Sciences
Dean’s Office: Dorothy Donahoe Hall, B102
Telephone: (661) 654-2221
• Committed to excellence in teaching and scholarship
for our students
• Dedicated to enlightenment and enrichment of our communities
• Devoted to freedom from ignorance and intolerance in our societies
More than just changing or transforming those who seek to learn and to know, education lifts us from ignorance, gives us something to live for, and empowers us with the knowledge of how to fulfill our potential as human beings. As the president of Trinity College points out, students vie for the limited placements in the freshman class at Ivy League schools because, “The best undergraduate education for the 21st Century will be based on a liberal education that produces an individual who is intentional about learning and life, empowered, informed, and responsible” (Greater Expectations National Panel Report, page 25).
The humanities and social sciences are the heart and the soul and the mind and spirit of the University, for humanities and social sciences are the core liberal arts from which all education inevitably derives. In the School of Humanities and Social Sciences (H&SS), we teach students how to think and to reason, how to read and to write, how to speak and how to persuade. We hold the keys to understanding how human beings behave and act and feel and accomplish; how humans create and perform and expound and aspire. We impart, ultimately, when it means to be human and wherein life has its meaning.
These are not just words to inspire our students to excel. These are our raison d’ętre. A true liberal arts education is a lifeline, and the core liberal arts are the fibers from which that lifeline is spun. Whether born to privilege or poverty, students who enroll in H&SS can be confident they will receive an education which engages them as active participants in the process, so they become lifelong learners, ready to meet changing professional and personal opportunities, gifted with autonomy and self-determination.
First and foremost, education must strive for excellence among all participants and at all levels. Aristotle’s observation is our guide: “We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is a habit, not a virtue.” To make a habit of excellence, a system of education must recognize and reward success wherever it occurs, not only via grand events such as commencement and honors convocation, but in the quotidian achievements that build toward these culminating celebrations. To achieve excellence, we must embrace change, ever seeking new ways to improve student learning and faculty professional development. Providing multiple avenues for learning also models for our students how they can then continue educating themselves long after they have left the university.
More powerful than technology, more far-reaching than the Internet, is the fire within. The commitment and dedication and passion of those who seek to discover and impart truth-the faculty-are the keys to excellence. The faculty in H&SS are both outstanding and diverse, encouraging us to be expansive and inclusive in all we do. We seek to make this university a universe of cultures, perspectives, values, and lifestyles, all the rich panoply of human endeavor and experience. The multiplicity of our accomplishments is directly tied to the multiplicity of strengths available only through welcoming the best qualified individuals from all backgrounds to participate as equal partners in our grand venture.
Each of us adds a new dimension to the university--our individual values, our vision, our personality, our accomplishments, and our preferences. Each of us brings a different sample of the world with us. All of us come from different places--from around the world and from virtually every state in this grand and majestic union. We bring with us this richness of our culture to this place and this time so that a university--a universe of perspectives and dimensions--so that a university might arise and thrive. We are all part of a vast continuum, a splendid panoply of exuberant creation, and share the deep bond of humanity. And humanity has its most profound roots in what William Faulkner calls “the old verities of the human heart”-compassion and love, courage, honor, truth, and self-sacrifice.
Education is simultaneously a most singular and most collaborative endeavor. No one can learn for another; the transfer of knowledge from one to another, whether individual or generation, requires tough, tender, sometimes agonizing work. It can be lonely, exhausting, frustrating, and we will not beguile our students with promises of “making learning fun.” The joy of learning is far more transcendent than fun; the insights, the moments of epiphany, come at high cost and are ever so much worth the effort.
As much as learning is singular, it is also collaborative. The proverb, “One hand cannot wash itself clear; it needs the help of the other,” states simply and clearly a fundamental truth of education. No one makes it alone; we all need the help of the other. Thus, enthusiastic collaboration by all facets of a university is essential for the most profound learning to take place at the highest level of excellence.
Our advance is sure, if not swift, when we direct our efforts toward our common purpose of providing our students the very best education possible. True collaboration recognizes the value each participant contributes to the process. The key is collegiality, collegiality framed upon mutual respect. The interchange of ideas and competing agenda may become untidy at times, perhaps even rough-and-tumble, but it can remain positive and productive when we bear in mind our common purpose and respect the positions of all, especially those with whom we disagree. Working together we can scale heights unattainable by individual effort. With passion and commitment and purpose, we can achieve all that we dare to dream.