College of Liberal Arts introduces Liberal Arts Multidisciplinary Scholars program

New program supports STEM majors who have interest in liberal arts disciplines

Gabrielle Plucknette-DeVito

Students who are part of the Liberal Arts Multidisciplinary Scholars program will receive support to pursue both their interests in STEM and in the liberal arts.

Students at Rochester Institute of Technology now have a designated pathway to pursue both a degree in a STEM-based program and a degree from RIT’s College of Liberal Arts.

The Liberal Arts Multidisciplinary Scholars program, which is being introduced this fall, gives financial support to students in STEM majors who are interested in adding a second major from the College of Liberal Arts. The program was designed to enable students to double major and enrich their educational experience at RIT, while also ensuring they will graduate on time.

“Giving more students the opportunity to deeply engage with the College of Liberal Arts’ human-centered and tech-infused programs alongside their STEM-based education will inspire more creativity and innovation,” said Anna Stenport, dean of the College of Liberal Arts. “This initiative also meets important diversity, equity, and inclusion priorities for our college—providing access to multidisciplinary collaboration, diverse perspectives and teams, and social justice and societal equity oriented study. RIT alumni are the kind of leaders our world needs, and we want as many as possible to graduate with liberal arts expertise and skills.”

The new program was created thanks to a gift from Joyce Pratt, chair of RIT’s College of Liberal Arts National Council. When Pratt was a college student in the 1960s, she wanted to double major in math and Slavic languages and literature. At the time, her university said that her choice was not a viable option. Now, she is passionate about giving other students the opportunity that she didn’t have.

“Having a better match between the liberal arts and STEM programs is absolutely critical. This program is all about developing the life skills of these students through liberal arts education. It’s about helping them develop communication and critical thinking skills, learn the value of history, and discover the impact of social norms,” said Pratt. “The employers who are lucky enough to get these students will recognize the value of this immediately.”

For its inaugural year, COLA staff will extend invitations to first-year students who were admitted into STEM programs but selected a liberal arts discipline as their second- or third-choice major on their university application. In future years, the scholarship program will be available for prospective first-year students.

“Our goal is to see a larger number of STEM students graduating with a second major in a liberal arts discipline,” said John Smithgall, assistant dean in the College of Liberal Arts. “Employers consistently share that they are seeking graduates who are effective communicators, critical thinkers, team players, problem solvers, and solutions finders. These are leadership and social change skills students develop and hone as Liberal Arts double majors.”

For more information about the program, email the COLA Office of Student Services.

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