The Free Press, Mankato, MN

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December 11, 2013

College presidents write of liberal arts' value

(Continued)

“We want to lower cost while protecting and even enhancing value,” Chopp said. “That is very much the mood right now within our schools.”

Weiss and Chopp decided to work together on the book after hosting a conference on the future of liberal arts colleges in April 2012 at Lafayette College, which Weiss formerly led.

The book is a collection of essays by 20 former and current college presidents, and includes lead chapters by Chopp and Weiss. The two presidents discuss the role of small liberal arts colleges, which collectively educate 6 percent of students in higher education. Swarthmore also is home to a special institute aimed at enhancing and fostering liberal arts education worldwide.

In an interview, Chopp and Weiss defended the cost of attending their institutions. Haverford’s costs likely will top $60,000 next year. The college currently charges $59,236 in tuition and room and board. Swarthmore charges $57,870.

The presidents emphasized that most students do not pay full tuition. Both schools offer financial aid to students based on need.

“There’s no question. We have to do something about cost,” Weiss said. “We have to control the tuition increases as much as we can. But we must also acknowledge that quality requires an investment.”

Both emphasized the return on investment: Chopp noted that 96 percent of Swarthmore alumni are employed. Weiss said Haverford boasts a similar employment rate.

“We need a cadre of people that can take this breadth of knowledge and critical and creative thinking, and connect them to the issues of the day,” Chopp said. “Our graduates will get jobs in these critical and creative fields.”

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