“The model has shifted, somewhat, from a greater emphasis on the public good, or the public value of great public universities, to a more individualistic or market idea,” he said.
Kramer said this view of the market as an unimpeachable solution benefits those individuals who can afford higher education.
“I would affirm the continuing value of an intellectual community that tries to understand the sources and complexities of our shared problems,” he said.
Ross questioned whether all legislators understand the value of public education, and he suggested college might not be the path for every individual.
Michael Tiemann, vice president of Open Source Affairs at Red Hat, said both technical and liberal arts educations are of value. He said Red Hat looks for those with wise judgment and ability to solve problems — products of a liberal arts education.
“Science is the process by which the self understands the universe, and art is the process by which the self expresses to the universe,” he said.
Hunter Harrison, a first-year student at UNC, said he does not think students should be educated for specific professions.
“I think you should be given a great foundation — a liberal arts foundation — because that helps you in so many aspects of your life,” he said.
Bill Moore, chairperson of Lookout Capital and professor of the practice of finance at UNC, said technical training isn’t a high priority in preparing for a successful career.
Of his 11 career tips, Moore said only one relates to technical proficiency.
“The other 10 all had to do with things concerned with the liberal arts education and humanities — things like ethical behavior, theory of complex decisions, etc.,” he said.
Folt said a liberal arts education should not be exclusive, and she acknowledged the University’s student body is still too homogeneous and disproportionately wealthy.
“I think the really big problem we have to avoid is trying to pretend like the liberal arts are only for the elite,” she said.