LAS celebrates 50 years

August 25, 2009. Sushi by Panda Express.

David Livingston

August 25, 2009. Sushi by Panda Express.

Chelsea Davis

This month, Iowa State’s College of Liberal Arts and Sciences is celebrating its 50th year serving ISU students.

Steve Jones, director of communications for Liberal Arts and Sciences, said the college is celebrating this occasion to “bring attention to past achievements, current students and future endeavors.”

Michael Whiteford, dean of the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, said the college is the “heart and soul of the university.” About 60 percent of all credit hours can be taken through the college, Whiteford said.

Though the college began in 1959 as the College of Sciences and Humanities, liberal arts courses have always been available at Iowa State.

Since 1959, the college has undergone a series of transformations; Some departments were combined, such as the department of economics and sociology and the department of history, government and philosophy.

Now the college is more comprehensive with 22 departments and around 50 majors. In addition, the college include one professional school, the Greenlee School of Journalism and Communication.

The demographics of the college have greatly diversified the university, bringing in more female and international students.

When asked about the college’s goals for the future, Whiteford said he wants to continue recruiting, since the college depends on “robust, energetic students.” 

Anthony Maly, junior in political science, said the writing and researching skills he’s obtained through his studies will help him with his future career in political science.

“The college provides a varied degree of education,” Maly said. “You learn to do things many different ways.”

In the future, Maly said he hopes different departments within the college will interact with one another more. He said he believes it would make the college more organized, neat and unified

In regard to research programs, Maly said LAS needs to keep “top-notch faculty engaged in cutting-edge research” in all departments, since LAS includes “several of the best research departments in the university.”

The college also has the largest number of undergraduate and graduate students, faculty and alumni on and off campus.

“Hypothetically, if the college of LAS were to separate from the rest of Iowa State, it would be the fifth-largest university in Iowa,” Whiteford said. “Any other college at Iowa State would not be able to do this.”

When asked about the problems encountered in maintaining such a large college, Whiteford said that there are more advantages than disadvantages to the college’s robust size.

Whiteford said he is able to manage a large college with the help of several layers of faculty and staff within the college. This includes four associate deans, department chairs, LAS Ambassadors and other faculty that keep him informed on what is going on.

The college is also diverse academically. Therefore, there are people from different disciplines who bring different perspectives to the LAS college. From hard sciences to philosophical inquiries into the meaning of life, thee college includes a wide variety of expertise and research.

“I just work with very good people,” Whiteford said, “I’m very well-informed because of this large college.”

As technology continues to advance at its current rapid pace, Whiteford likes to think about what education will be like 20 years from now.

“Who would have imagined 20 years ago what technological revolutions we would have today?”  Whiteford asked.

Along with these technological advances, Whiteford said that students need to be adept at working and living with different cultures, being able to change locations and adjust to the various locations. Additionally, many students are finding it essential to speak at least two languages.