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‘A Liberal Arts Education Gives Students a Range of Skills People Tend to Seek in Leaders,’ Says President Vincent Rougeau

Diverse: Issues in Higher Education | AMDG: A Jesuit Podcast | Future U Podcast
June 28th, 2022 by 
President Vincent D. Rougeau. Photo by Michal Ivins

President Vincent D. Rougeau. Photo by Michal Ivins

On the heels of his first academic year at the helm of Holy Cross, President Vincent D. Rougeau recently spoke to media across the country about his career leading up to his 2021 historic appointment at the College, the value of a liberal arts education today and his hopes for its future.

In a conversation with Jeff Selingo on the “Future U” podcast, President Rougeau shared his pathway within academia to become the first Black and lay president of Holy Cross and his thoughts on what a 21st century Jesuit institution of higher education should be.

“We have to be on our game about talking about who we are and what we do,” said Rougeau. “And for me, that involves really reaching out to describe what it means to be part of a mission-based educational experience and what that mission is and where it came from and how we live it out, because I do think there’s a real hunger in this society, really around the world, for being part of institutions and experiences that are based on some sets of values and meaning. ”

Rougeau continued this conversation with David Pluviose, the executive editor of “Diverse: Issues in Higher Education” for its “In The Margins” podcast. He focused on the legacy and tradition of Jesuit education, and its future in diversity, equity and inclusion. Specifically, Rougeau presented ideas on initiatives related to programming and support needed to create a welcoming culture, rather than simply enrolling students of color.

“One of the ways to make sure that a community truly embraces equity and inclusion, is to not only have a commitment to hiring diverse faculty, but also to have a curriculum and academic programming and residential life programming that also reflects that commitment,” said Rougeau.

While speaking to Mike Jordan Laskey, host of “AMDG: A Jesuit Podcast,” Rougeau again touched on the future of higher education, but also the value of a liberal arts education today. He pointed to one of Holy Cross’ most prominent alumni, Dr. Anthony Fauci  ’62, Hon. ’87, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases and the nation’s top allergy and infectious diseases expert, and who most recently the College honored by bestowing his name on its Integrated Science Complex.

“Dr. Anthony Fauci was a classics major and now he’s doing something not immediately apparent from a classics degree, but what he gained in his education at Holy Cross allowed him to apply that learning in the context of a profession that he chose and to gain leadership in that profession,” said Rougeau.

“I think one of the things that a liberal arts education does, is that it gives students a range of skills that people tend to seek in leaders. And when they move through whatever profession they choose, whether it’s teaching, law, medicine or business, they emerge as people who can take greater responsibility and really assume leadership.”

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