Conversations to Focus on Higher Education’s Greater Benefits

MHU has held the first two in a series of conversations about how we prepare our students for their post-college life. The university received a grant from the Bringing Theory to Practice Project, an organization which helps colleges and universities find ways to link the learning, civic development, and well-being of their students.

For Mars Hill, that means “focusing on higher education’s greater benefits, all in the context of MHU, its history, its mission, and its role as a diverse and growing liberal arts institution in Western North Carolina,” according to Virginia Bower, the English professor who is coordinating the series of conversations (and who has been having similar discussions throughout this academic year through a Hoffman Fellowship, named for Mars Hill’s former academic dean, the late Dick Hoffman). Bower says the series is intended “to help us as a community to share, exchange, stimulate curiosity and caring, and live more deeply.”

The director of the Bringing Theory to Practice Project, Bates College President Emeritus Donald Harward, says the project’s mission is to help colleges and universities prepare their students to “leave college ready to be not just employees, but whole people–contributing members of a democratic society, individuals who work together to create a better world.”

The conversations are open to students, faculty, staff, alumni, and area residents. The first conversation, held February 14, examined the history of Mars Hill and its liberal arts tradition. The second conversation, held February 28, explored how professional programs such as business and nursing fit within the liberal arts. The remainder of the conversations will happen roughly every other week (resuming March 21, following spring break), with a concluding symposium on April 24.