To the Editor: I would like to enter a respectful dissent from The Daily Pennsylvanian's editorial on the SCUE White Paper ("An incomplete analysis," 3/28/01). Your editorial criticizes the White Paper for proceeding "on the incorrect assumption that all Penn students would benefit from pursuing a path grounded wholly in the liberal arts" and then argues that "SCUE suppports a fundamental change in the University's intellectual philosophy -- away from practicality and towards ornamentality -- that threatens the vision that Benjamin Franklin originally established for this University." In my reading of the White Paper I did not draw the conclusion that SCUE believes that all Penn students should devote all of their studies to the "liberal arts." But to the extent that the notion of a liberal arts education is founded on a philosophy that stresses critical thinking and critical skills across a wide range of subjects and disciplines, I do believe that all four of our undergraduate schools are offering different versions of a liberal arts education. I was, I'll confess, especially pained to see your editorial fall into the cliched distinction between "practicality" and "ornamentality." Every fiber of my being -- both as dean of the College and as a historian -- cries out against attributing to Franklin and to Penn such a simplistic view of the educational principles upon which our University was founded. Franklin was a ceaselessly inquisitive, active learner, a person who worked to satisfy his passion for learning without regard either to "practicality" or "ornamentality." Because he was by nature a problem-solver, he had an uncommon ability to apply aspects of his learning to practical problems. But the fuel for his success -- intellectual curiousity applied to a wide field of intellectual inquiry -- forms the very center of my conception of a liberal arts education at Penn.
Richard Beeman Dean of the College Professor of History
To the Editor: Your choice to reformat the WorldReport section of the DP is disappointing. By devoting the same amount of space as before, but adding a large "Business and Technology" section, you are necessarily subordinating world news. Executive Editor Michael Vondriska's statement that "WorldReport will bring you the same extensive national and international news coverage," seems untrue. You have replaced relevant news with stories that have headlines like "Oley designs old-fashioned sleds" (DP, 3/26/01). I urge you to replace this newfound superflouesness with the strong international news stories that I have enjoyed in the past.
Jeff Bradford College '02Comments powered by Disqus
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