From the Dean: Dr. Alan White
We – the faculty, staff, alumni, donors and friends of the Thomas Harriot College of Arts and Sciences – join together to provide the best liberal arts education to each and every student at East Carolina University. So what is a liberal arts education?
The term “Liberal” originates from Greek and Roman cultures that viewed knowledge in the basic, core disciplines (the arts and sciences) as necessary for any free person. “Liberal,” therefore refers to freedom. Today, we think of these as the basic, fundamental skills and knowledge we need to live a productive and meaningful life.
Harriot College is the largest academic unit at ECU, with nearly 15,000 students and more than 500 faculty members. Our students benefit from the ever-expanding undergraduate, graduate, and PhD programs being offered. The college offers 36 undergraduate degrees, 18 master’s degrees, 5 doctoral degrees, and 20 pre- and post-baccalaureate specialized certificates through our 15 departments and 17 interdisciplinary programs. These programs stimulate undergraduate and graduate student learning and research in all three divisions of the college – the humanities, social sciences, and natural sciences and mathematics.
However, teaching is no longer the simple transmission of a body of knowledge from one mind to another. Our students are provided with opportunities to become fully engaged learners. They participate in faculty-led, active and inquiry-based teaching methods. They receive professional mentoring through faculty-student research projects. They contribute to society through community involvement and service learning activities, and they experience new cultures first-hand through study-abroad opportunities.
In the Thomas Harriot College of Arts and Sciences, students learn how to “think.” They are exposed to a broad range of ideas that empower them to think critically by comparing and contrasting ideas and concepts, weighing options, and evaluating information. They learn the methods that their discipline uses to investigate and solve problems, bringing about positive changes in our world.
Upon graduating with a liberal arts degree, our students are prepared to give their employers what they are looking for. Employers seek to hire graduates who can think critically, communicate clearly, and who can use their acquired knowledge – and the ability to gain additional knowledge – in an effort to think outside of the box and solve new problems.
Graduates of the Thomas Harriot College of Arts and Sciences acquire a well-balanced, liberal arts education that will last them a lifetime, giving them the skills employers are looking for, and preparing them for success as future leaders and life-long learners.
Embedded in the honored liberal arts tradition of celebrating inquiry, exploration, and discovery, the Thomas Harriot College of Arts and Sciences has an enduring commitment to inspire and serve its students, faculty and staff, and the larger community. As dean of the college, along with the entire faculty and staff, it is our intention to carry on this service and tradition of excellence.