For three years Life & Letters magazine has marked our progress toward the dream of a new College of Liberal Arts Building, and with this issue we celebrate the realization of that dream and the hard work and dedication of those who made it possible.
Although the construction phase is for the most part complete, our work is far from over. For the building is not an end in itself, but rather a place of beginnings.
It is a place of beginnings for faculty such as Associate Professor of Sociology David Kirk, whose research aimed at bringing new hope to a troubled Austin neighborhood is reported on page 4; beginnings for any student who attends The University of Texas at Austin, who regardless of his or her area of study will at some point take a class in history or English, anthropology or psychology and will encounter the vast and rich world of ideas in the College of Liberal Arts.
Many will learn what Larry Temple, a longtime friend to this university and our college, said was the reason and purpose of higher education. During his acceptance speech for the Santa Rita Award in 1989, Larry said we are “called to the cause of education not just because it is such an exhilarating enterprise, but also because it offers us the best way to leave a meaningful and lasting legacy to future generations.”
That is the hope embodied in our new building, in its classrooms and labs and meeting spaces: They are the seedbeds of our future.
Molly Wahlberg, the author of our cover story, aptly describes how the new College of Liberal Arts Building is already supporting a feeling of community, a place for students to share ideas, work on upcoming projects, or just relax and enjoy the company of fellow liberal arts students. It is also a place for scholars who were once scattered across campus to collaborate in shared spaces, to learn from and support each other in their teaching and research. Finally, it is a place that reunites all branches of our proud Reserve Officers’ Training Corps in what is certainly among the finest ROTC facilities in the country. It is a thrill to walk the halls of the new building and see the mix of students—in jeans, business suits or fatigues—make themselves at home.
I am proud to add that Molly is a graduate student assistant in our public affairs office and is an alumna of our Liberal Arts Honors program. She will graduate in May with a Master of Arts degree in Latin American Studies.
On commencement day we will celebrate her achievements along with the achievements of her many liberal arts classmates, not as work that has been completed, but as the beginning of many rich and rewarding lives and careers nurtured in the liberal arts.
Randy L. Diehl,Dean
David Bruton, Jr. Regents Chair in Liberal Arts