A Conversation with the President
Lewis Duncan, Rollins' 14th President
President Lewis Duncan discusses how a liberal arts education prepares students not just for lifelong learning, but lifelong earning.
Q: You’re a member of the Association of American Colleges and Universities (AAC&U) Presidents’ Trust. How does the Trust’s work affect Rollins?
A: The Presidents’ Trust was created to promote the value—both economic and social—of a liberal education in the 21st century. Its guiding principles are a natural fit with Rollins’ commitment to applied liberal education and its focus on citizenship and leadership.
Q: AAC&U recently released a report on the comparative earnings of college graduates in different fields. How did those with majors in the liberal arts and sciences fare?
A: Better than most of their friends in other disciplines. In their peak earning years, those with advanced degrees made approximately $2,000 more than those in professional or preprofessional fields, and $20,000 more if they majored in the sciences or mathematics, even though they had lower starting salaries.
Q: So you can’t really measure success by your first job after college?
A: It’s unrealistic. A number of graduates go on to graduate school or service-oriented work like Teach for America. Their first paychecks don’t reflect their ultimate earning power.
Q: What does a liberal arts education offer that makes it so valuable in terms of success across a variety of careers?
A: A liberal arts education develops knowledge about a variety of subjects, creating an informed foundation for learning. An overwhelming majority of executive decision-makers prefer that kind of diversity of knowledge.
Q: That suggests a liberal arts education can be the launching pad to any career.
A: Rollins graduates demonstrate that every day. To enhance that process, we are directing additional attention to assuring that Rollins students recognize and can articulate how the capabilities they develop through their experiences here translate to the workplace, whether it’s an office, a laboratory, a retail establishment, or a village in a developing nation. That preparation is the return on our students’ investment in their education, and why the liberal arts underpin every educational experience Rollins offers.
Sources: How Liberal Arts and Sciences Majors Fare in Employment: A Report on Earnings and Long-Term Career Paths by Debra Humphreys and Patrick Kelly, published by the Association of American Colleges and Universities; It Takes More Than a Major: Employer Priorities for College Learning and Student Success by Hart Research Associates, published by the Association of American Colleges and Universities. Graphs are reprinted with permission from How Liberal Arts and Sciences Majors Fare in Employment: A Report on Earnings and Long-Term Career Paths. Copyright 2014 by the Association of American Colleges and Universities.