Crimmel Colloquium Lecture - Gene Tobin
The Hays and Margaret Crimmel Colloquium on Liberal Education The Future of Liberal Arts Colleges Gene Tobin Program Officer Liberal Arts Colleges Program, The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation Tuesday, March 19th 7:00pm Eben Holden Over a decade ago, a prominent journalist compared liberal arts colleges to high-end passenger trains in the late 1940s. “They performed exceptionally well but people began to use automobiles and planes more often. Eventually, the best passenger trains suffered not just because of direct competition . . . but because they were isolated. It did not mean as much to be the best when they were the only trains, and the decline was inevitable. . .” (Paul Neely, “The Threats to Liberal Arts Colleges,” in Steven Koblik and Stephen R. Graubard, eds., Distinctively American: The Residential Liberal Arts College [New Brunswick, N.J.: Transaction Publishers, 2000), p. 39]. This talk will trace the intellectual and social history of the modern liberal arts college from Abraham Flexner’s The American College: A Criticism (1908) to Andrew Delbanco’s College: What It Was, Is, and Should Be (2012). One of the major take-aways is that the future of liberal arts colleges begins with collaboration. Eugene M. Tobin is the Program Officer for the Liberal Arts Colleges Program at The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation. His grant making responsibilities encompass the areas of faculty and curricular development, presidential leadership, undergraduate teaching and learning, educational effectiveness and institutional collaboration. Mr. Tobin spent 23 years at Hamilton College as a faculty member, department chair, dean of faculty, and as the eighteenth president (1993-2003). Prior to joining the Hamilton faculty in 1980, he taught at state colleges in New Jersey and Pennsylvania, was a National Endowment for the Humanities Postdoctoral Fellow at Vanderbilt University, and held visiting appointments at Miami University (Ohio) and Indiana University, Bloomington. His research focuses on late 19th and early 20th century American social and political history and the history of higher education. Mr. Tobin earned his B.A. in history from Rutgers University and his M.A. and Ph.D. in the history of American Civilization from Brandeis University. He is the co-author with William G. Bowen and Martin A. Kurzweil of Equity and Excellence in American Higher Education, winner of the 2006 American Education Research Association’s Outstanding Book Award. His articles have appeared in Labor History, The Historian, and Journal of Urban History, and his op-eds have been published in the Baltimore Sun, Philadelphia Inquirer, and Chronicle of Higher Education. Mr. Tobin is a member of the Board of Directors of Sweet Briar College.