Forum focuses on future

By Melissa Prentice

Arizona Daily Wildcat

A college education should be about more than just preparing for the job market but job training should also be part of the end result.

What should students be able to do by the time they graduate from the university? A group of about 20 faculty members came to the consensus that, most importantly, students should have "learned how to learn" and to be "creative and critical thinkers" by the time they graduate.

The faculty discussion was part of a four-part series focused on setting goals for the university and then establishing procedures to meet those goals. Marvin Waterstone, geography professor and organizer of the forum, plans to work with leaders of the Faculty Senate to translate the opinions of the faculty participants into recommendations to the central administration.

Although preparing students for the job market and "top notch" graduate schools should also be a priority, the university should try to "raise the student's expectations above vocational education," the faculty members said.

"We want students to be able to connect with and appreciate what is going on in world, whether it is arts, politics or physics," said John Schwarz, a political science professor and Faculty Senate chairman-elect.

Barbara Garrett, a higher education administration graduate student and employee at Pima Community College, stressed the importance of providing a well-rounded education.

"We need to keep education flexible and provide broad-based knowledge that can adapt to change," she said. "We are living in a changing and increasingly technological society and whatever skills are taught need to be able to adapt to this."

Ideally, students should be able to receive this type of broad-based education, as well as learning skills that will prepare them for the job market, said several faculty members, including Faculty Senate Chairman J.D. Garcia.

"Learning how to learn is important even in areas that are more like professional training," he said. "It is important for everyone to learn critical thinking, the ability to express themselves and how to maximize their experience at the university."

Other faculty members echoed Garcia's sentiment that students must take an active role in ensuring that they get a valuable education.

The next three discussions will build on the goals set by the faculty yesterday and will attempt to design procedures that will lead the university toward meeting the goals. Next Wednesday's discussion will focus on the specific role of a public research university like the University of Arizona in meeting these goals. The forum will be held in Student Union Room 256 at noon.

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