Woo delivers State of the College address

Outgoing Dean stresses value of liberal arts education


University’s Dean of College of Arts & Sciences Meredith Woo

College of Arts and Sciences Dean Meredith Woo addressed an audience of students, faculty and administrators about the state of the College on Friday in Old Cabell Hall.

College Dean Meredith Woo addressed students, faculty and administrators about the state of the College Friday in Old Cabell Hall.

This semester marks Woo’s last as Dean after assuming office in the summer of 2008.

Third-year Council President Will Laverack, a College student, introduced Woo. He spoke to his personal journey in the College and what he has gained from being a College student.

“When I arrived at U.Va. as a first year, I wasn’t sure what I wanted to do,” Laverack said. “But the College allowed me to test the waters, stay true to myself and explore diverse academic interests.”

Woo’s talk — “Is (The) College Worth Paying For?” — discussed the value of a liberal arts education.

“College is worth paying for only if it provides a transformative experience and education and teaches you how to think,” Woo said.

Woo acknowledged that the outside world has changed significantly since she graduated from college in 1980, but she said a liberal arts degree is still valuable.

“Liberal arts majors do just as well in terms of income over their lifetime,” Woo said. “Wall Street is the repository of history majors.”

Woo said the College has “great momentum” moving forward.

“We have balanced the budget every year and have built a healthy reserve,” Woo said. “We have new 50 hires this year and we are going to keep hiring at that pace until we plateau at about 600.”

She added, however, the College still has several areas for improvement.

“Today there are too many obstacles that make it difficult for teachers to be teachers and scholars to be scholars,” Woo said. “The solution is restructuring the professoriate into different categories while still respecting teaching and research.”

Woo said professors should change their teaching styles to fit students’ changing ways of obtaining information.

“The vast majority of students’ knowledge does not come from the classroom,” Woo said. “Professors need to provide education in the classroom that compliments what they are getting from Internet.”

Woo also stressed the University’s need to remain competitive with other Universities — a task College Development Officer Pattie Burgh said would require the University raise funds to increase its hiring efforts in the coming years.

“In the next five to ten years, U.Va. will lose 40 percent of its staff due to retirement,” Burgh said. “The Faculty Forward Campaign is raising money so that we can be competitive.”

The Faculty Forward Campaign is an effort by the College to raise a combined $130 million for the endowment and spendable gifts by June 2016 to dedicate to improving faculty hiring and research funding.

Published February 9, 2014 in FP test, News

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