COLA Connections Newsletter: Winter 2017

From the Desk of the Dean

I am writing this having just returned from the annual conference of the Association of American Colleges & Universities.  That conference focused on the important and foundational role that liberal arts education will play in meeting the “grand challenges” of the 21st century.  These challenges include alleviating global hunger, ensuring sustainable ecosystems, tackling human rights abuses, securing cyberspace, and engineering new medicines, to name just a few.

Addressing these challenges requires an educated public and workforce that not only has the skills to explore technical solutions to these problems, but also has the capacity to address the political, social, cultural, economic, and ethical contexts in which these problems (and their proposed solutions) exist.  Moreover, problem solvers need to think critically and creatively, collaborate successfully, and communicate effectively, in order to turn proposed solutions into reality.  Simply put, today’s students ought to learn how to integrate technical and non-technical knowledge and skillsets to have the greatest impact on improving our human condition.

I came back from this conference not only inspired, but also proud to know that RIT’s College of Liberal Arts is on the right track in providing the important liberal education that every student needs to live full and successful personal, professional, and civic lives. The fact that we are on the right track is best exhibited by the stories you will read about in this edition of our College Connections newsletter. 

In this issue we meet Natalia Dempsey, a Public Policy and Criminal Justice double major who spent a semester as part of the prestigious New York State Assembly internship program. Natalia discusses her internship experience and provides advice to students thinking about applying to a highly competitive internship program.  We also catch up with Communication & Media Technologies alumna and former RIT staff member, Lisa Barber, who shares her thoughts on her educational experience and the importance of a rich and diverse educational background. 

We also recap a symposium hosted by our Center for Statesmanship, Law & Liberty on “How Politics Really Works.”  That symposium provided students from RIT and several area high schools the opportunity to interact with elected officials and learn "how the sausage is really made," so to speak!  Finally, we end with an overview of the RIT Expressive Communication Center, a resource right here on campus for students looking to improve their public speaking skills. 

We hope you enjoy this issue of College Connections, and as always, please send any comments or questions to me at