College of Liberal Arts celebrates change

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The College of Liberal Arts celebrated its diverse career path for students on Tuesday with a panel discussion on the changing role of a liberal arts education in the 21st century.

The college, well-known for its distinguished Plan II Honors Program, has more than 10,000 students and 45 majors in 21 academic departments.

The panel included liberal arts Associate Dean Marc Musick and Arabic professor, Mahmoud Al-Batal. Al-Batal is the director of the Center for Arabic Study Abroad and the director of the UT Arabic Flagship Program.

The flagship program, established in 2007, graduated 55 students in May 2013. Al-Batal said these students are not necessarily trapped in this one field thanks to their liberal arts education.

Al-Batal said these students have used their training in the Arabic language in many different ways, such as working for the government, teaching or going into graduate school.

“Students can go into many other fields such as law school and medical school,” Al-Batal said. “We don’t have to be thinking in terms of what I’m going to be doing with Arabic.”

Musick said as technology changes, a liberal arts education does not have to transform much because students are already taught to adapt to change.

“Plan II and my liberal arts education has prepared me to approach a lot of different options,” said Andrew Wilson, Plan II history senior and president of the Liberal Arts Council. “I’m not just constrained to teaching or going to graduate school. I have so many different paths available.”

Plan II was established in 1935 to give students a broader education for uncertain futures and allows roughly 175 students each year to take small classes in many different areas.