Over the summer, "Newsweek" named Princeton the "Hottest School for Liberal Arts." This is a great achievement, especially considering the emphasis that is placed on liberal arts education by so many administrators, faculty and staff. The emphasis on liberal arts, however, does not seem to go past a vocal commendation. Liberal arts departments are in need of office space, library holdings and classrooms. The University's new capital campaign should include funds to support the liberal arts tradition, in addition to programs such as "Engineering and a Sustainable Society."
Several things could be done to improve liberal arts facilities as Princeton. Far too many liberal arts classes, especially critical language classes, are held in poorly equipped classrooms such as Dillon Court. Other rooms are small, dark and depressing, such as those in the basement of McCosh. Additionally, liberal arts professors need more office space, and more space needs to be allotted for liberal arts books in Firestone. This last point is especially troubling. With the already planned downsizing of the holdings in Firestone, it seems as though the University needs to open up more space for books, specifically liberal arts texts, elsewhere.
There are plenty of places for this expansion to occur. Frick and Green could both be renovated to house more classrooms or more library space. Green would be especially appropriate for library expansion because it is located directly across the street from Firestone. Additionally, adding extra classrooms to the new "arts complex" that is to be built in coming years would mean new and improved facilities could be available without renovation. The University needs to ensure that this project, an incredibly large expansion of campus, caters to more than just the small fraction of students who will utilize the performing arts facilities.
While the focus on the physical sciences in the capital campaign is admirable, it is important that Princeton not lose sight of one of its best aspects. We have some of the strongest liberal arts departments in the country, and we need to encourage those departments to flourish. Better facilities and more classroom space will bring in more students and perhaps even more professors to our liberal arts departments.
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