Utah gets a new liberal arts college

by Gordon Jones

In a development which no doubt has traditional higher education quaking in its boots, the Board of Directors of Mount Liberty College has announced the establishment of the College and set its opening for 26 August.

Seriously, folks, since Mount Liberty will matriculate no more than 20 students in its freshman class, it is unlikely that the Big Eight or BYU will even notice. But for the increasing number of students in Utah who are looking for a continuation of the liberal arts training they have received at home or in public charters, this is an important development.

Mount Liberty is a true liberal arts college, and while one can get the liberal arts at the University of Utah, or Westminster, or BYU, it is harder and harder to do so, and less and less likely that that will continue to be the case. Or one can go to St. Johns in Santa Fe or Annapolis, or to Hillsdale in Michigan or Pepperdine in California. But these schools are (a) expensive and (b) far away. By contrast, Mount Liberty is local and cheap.

The Mount Liberty curriculum is based on the Great Books and the Great Ideas that have moved civilization forward over the centuries. De-emphasizing textbooks, concentrating on reading and dissection of original texts from The Epic of Gilgamesh to Wilson’s “Fourteen Points,” and specializing in the Socratic Method, Mount Liberty is indeed “something completely different.”

At a time when the emphasis is on “getting a job,” Mount Liberty has a different emphasis. It will offer only a single degree, a Bachelor of Arts in Liberal Arts. Students receiving the degree will be well-prepared for graduate school in such professions as law, communications, and business. Their exposure to the thoughts of the world’s great thinkers, writers, painters, musicians, and architects will give them the ability to integrate truth and beauty into whatever their final career is in life. It could be starting their own business, raising their families, political activity, the law, teaching, or careers not yet thought of.

That’s the great blessing of a liberal arts degree. A proper study of the past prepares you for a future that is not even dreamt of yet. That’s the philosophy of the College, and a look at top management at the geekiest of dot com companies seems to bear it out. There you will see degrees in Latin, in philosophy, in history, in literature. That is what is needed in the education of tomorrow’s creators. Learning to code is fine, but at some point, you have to decide what to code. That’s where a liberal arts education fits.

Over the course of the four-year academic programs, students will have an opportunity to engage in the application of classical knowledge and insights to the practical problems of modern life. MLC strongly believes that classical education is not only compatible with career success but essential to it.

Mount Liberty anticipates enrolling no more than 20 freshman students in August of 2019 and will add approximately that number each year for the next four years. College directors do not ever expect to compete with Behemoth University. Instead, the College will fill a niche. It may be a small niche, but it is a vital one.

Tuition at Mount Liberty will be about one-fourth that of similar liberal arts colleges (of which there are none in Utah), and scholarship assistance will be available for at least some of the entering freshman class. Mount Liberty has received a generous grant from the forward-looking folks at the Sorenson Legacy Foundation which will cover much of the operating costs for the first year. College administrators project that fundraising going forward can be devoted to student aid.

Mount Liberty will accept no government funds, directly or indirectly, so as to be able to maintain its independence. Though primarily an on-site college, a limited number of students may be admitted from the on-line community.

Gordon S. Jones is one of the founders of Mount Liberty College and will teach a four-semester course in The Development of Civilization. The course will integrate the history of civilization into the study of literature, art, architecture, and music of civilization as it has developed.

More information about Mount Liberty College, including admissions and financial aid applications, is available at www.mountlibertycollege.org. The College has a strict policy of non-discrimination with respect to race, religion, ethnicity, national origin, or sex.

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