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Tuesday, July 06, 2010  
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July Fourth and the Liberal Arts

Occasionally, members of the Executive Council share a message for the college community. Today, we hear from Dr. Stephanie Quinn, executive vice president and dean of the college.

Dear students, faculty and staff:

We all just celebrated our country’s birth and its founding political values. What has that to do with our mission as a college providing an education grounded in liberal arts learning? A lot.

If you haven’t seen it already, read President Head’s column in this past Sunday’s Rockford Register Star. He discussed some contemporary debates about the liberal arts, some of the learning goals based in that approach, and our college’s commitment to that kind of learning. He also mentions the roots of liberal arts learning in ancient Greece and Rome.

Many of us have had the moment to explain to students or parents that liberal arts education does not mean an education in or for today’s liberal politics. Words’ meanings evolve over time, and the two words—"liberal” and "arts” are good examples.

Although not directed to the liberal / conservative divide played out in the talk show circuit, the term "liberal arts” does relate to politics in the broadest and oldest sense—the role of citizens. The words and the concept are Latin. "Liberal” derives from liberalis, the designation of a free citizen. "Arts” is from artes, meaning skills. The ancient liberal arts were the skills need to participate as free Roman citizens.

Those skills consisted mainly of speaking in the Senate, in the courts, and in public; and the use of persuasion to move others to action. The skills were based in deep knowledge of ancient history and literature, ancient culture broadly, in order to base rhetorical arguments in appropriate context. Everyone in prominent positions needed those skills—politicians, military leaders, merchants. They were the skills of leadership, and they were studied assiduously.

Their study often took Romans to Athens, for ancient Greece and Athens in particular were the homes, the originators, of these techniques. In the democracy of fifth-century B.C.E. Athens, rhetoric (the word is Greek) was a new and revolutionary technique for all public success, demonstrating those skills to be teachable and hence available to every citizen.

These ancient Greek and Roman skills were the tools of political participation, of citizens. We all know that the Athenian democracy and the Roman Republic, although far more deeply participatory than our political society, nonetheless limited access to citizenship far more narrowly than we do today (finally). In modern times, the precious historical turn that European thought and United States history took was to expand political access in principle, on the basis of natural individual rights, which was not an ancient concept.

That philosophical and political turn rests on an educational one as well. Since we are all citizens now, we all need the training in citizenship that was limited in the ancient past to Roman or Athenian free male citizens. Now we all need an education grounded in contemporary liberal arts learning—in reading, writing, speaking and listening; in argumentation and thinking; in the broad use of evidence empirically, historically, and culturally.

The freedoms we celebrated this weekend are granted us in our founding documents. They continue strong only as we exercise them in our careers, communities and voting booths, and around the world. An education grounded in liberal arts learning is exercise, weight training for the brain, the roots of a life-long habit of exercise of the core ability of citizens and professionals to make free choices with the skill to make those choices wisely.

Happy Fourth.

Stephanie Quinn, Ph.D.
Executive Vice President and
Dean of the College


College hosts teens involved in community service projects this week
More than 200 junior high and high school-aged kids from seven states are in Rockford this week to complete service projects for people who wouldn’t otherwise make the repairs.

The youths are here with a program called Know Sweat through Christ in Youth. The program connects youth groups with volunteer work projects across the country. Projects include home repair, ministry outreach and community service.

Volunteers will work at various sites in the city to paint, complete yard work and make home repairs for people who are unable to complete the projects themselves. They focus on homes with low-income, disabled or elderly residents, and the work is paid for by Know Sweat and Christ in Youth. Several youth groups raise money to attend the event, and proceeds cover food, lodging at a college campus and project materials.

The volunteers met Monday afternoon at Rockford College, where they’ll stay until the service project concludes Friday.

Know Sweat spent about a week on campus last year and forged partnerships with such groups as Rockford Urban Ministries, Rockford MELD and Rockford Rescue Mission. The volunteers will work this week at the mission’s thrift store.

Christ in Youth is based in Joplin, Mo., and Know Sweat began in 1995 as a single service week for junior high students. This year, Know Sweat plans to offer about 15 summer service project trips in 10 U.S. cities.

Source: Rockford Register Star


RC board member honored for his efforts to promote peace
Jim Keeling, a member of the college’s board of trustees, was among those honored recently by the Central Asia Institute with the organization’s Humanitarian Award. His wife, Pam, and Rockford Education Association vice president Karen Bieschke were part of the honor. The award was presented at the CAI conference in Rosemont, Ill.

Keeling and others were instrumental in bringing author Greg Mortenson ("Three Cups of Tea”) to Rockford to talk about his efforts to build schools in Pakistan and Afghanistan. He and fellow RC board member Sunil Puri were also the main force behind the Keeling-Puri Peace Plaza on Perryville Road.

Bieschke, meanwhile, worked with REA president Molly Phelan to organize a "Pennies for Peace” campaign to support Mortenson’s cause. The project, with a goal of raising $50,000, ended up securing more than $100,000—enough to build and endow two schools.

Congratulations to Jim, Pam, and Karen for this prestigious honor!


Another reason ‘RC Rocks’: Successful graduates
The Marketing Department is running a campaign to remind the campus community and the public just how much Rockford College "Rocks.” We are all doing amazing work and the stories should be shared! Each week, look forward to a new letter of 'R.O.C.K.S.' as it will represent an area in which we excel. Find out more at www.rockford.edu/?RCRocks. Should you have submissions, please contact Cassie Swanson at casswanson@rockford.edu. Here is this week's story:

S: Successful Graduates.

Our alumni have gone on to do great things! Learn more below about two of our successful business alumni – Sunil Puri and Fred Young. 

  • Success in business – what a liberal arts degree can do for you!


College to be recognized as charter member of Chamber of Commerce
Rockford College isn’t the only one celebrating anniversaries this year. The Rockford Chamber of Commerce, a business organization with about 1,700 members, is celebrating its 100th anniversary this year. Rockford College was among the handful of charter members when the organization was launched in 1910. The college will be recognized at the Chamber’s anniversary celebration July 13 at Midway Village.


Out and about
A list of community events that may be interest to the Rockford College community and their families.

July 6: Escape to Burpee: Feathered Dinosaurs, 1 p.m., Burpee Museum of Natural History, 737 N. Main St., Rockford. Some scientists think dinosaurs are still alive and flying around your backyard. A live dove will help attendees discover how modern birds compare to ferocious dinosaurs. For ages 9 and older. Cost is $12; $10 for child members. Registration and payment required. 815-965-3433, ext. 1020; www.burpee.org.

July 6: Music in the Park: Rockford Concert Band, 7:30 to 9:30 p.m., Sinnissippi Park Music Shell, 1401 N. Second St., Rockford. Jack Simon conducts band featuring Mark Baldin on trumpet and vocalists Jerry and Kathy Stevens. Free entertainment for the family. 815-987-8800; www.rockfordparkdistrict.org.

July 9: Friday Night Flix, set up lawn chairs around 7 p.m., movie starts at dusk, Davis Park, 320 S. Wyman St. in downtown Rockford. This week’s free family-friendly movie is "Shrek,” voiced by Mike Myers, Eddie Murphy and Cameron Diaz. Movies begin with an on-screen introduction from the Register Star’s Movie Man, Will Pfeifer, and are projected on a screen more than 14 feet high and 25 feet wide, and vendors will offer free popcorn and food and drinks for purchase.

July 8 – 11: "Radio Gals,” performed by Artists’ Ensemble Theatre right here at the Maddox Theatre. For more information, call AET at 815-904-2277 or go to www.artistsensemble.org.


RC in the news

  • Jeff Fahrenwald, MBA director, and Steve Kadamian, business, were interviewed last Monday by Channel 17 about the LEAD program for RPS students on campus.
  • President Head had a column on the Rockford Register Star’s opinion page July 4 on the value of liberal arts in today’s society. You can see it here:

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