August 29, 2010
On Getting a Good Liberal Arts Education in South Carolina
At a recent UM speaking engagement, I was surprised when an audience member said: “You mentioned the United Methodist Church in SC had colleges affiliated with them. I didn’t know that. Can you tell me where they are and their names?
Obviously, there is some work to be done in our local UM churches getting the word out about the great liberal arts education one can receive right here in the Palmetto State. Here is a thumbnail sketch of our schools.
Claflin University - Founded in 1869 by Methodist missionaries to prepare freed slaves to take their place as full American citizens, it is located in Orangeburg, SC. Claflin is liberal arts, co-education institution, dedicated to educational excellence in preparing students without regard to race, gender, religion or ethnic origin.
Columbia College – Founded in 1854, this private liberal arts women’s college in the capital city has more than 1,500 students, and is one of the oldest women’s colleges in the United States. Artist Georgia O’Keefe taught art briefly there in 1914-15. Several Ashland members are alumnae.
Spartanburg Methodist College (SMC) was founded in 1911 by Dr. David English Camak. Enrollment is approximately 800 students, and it is the only independent, regionally accredited residential two-year college in SC. SMC offers liberal arts curriculum designed to help prepare students for a transition to a four-year college/university.
Wofford College is a liberal arts school of 1,400 students, located in Spartanburg, SC. The Rev. Benjamin Wofford, who desired to create a college for “literary, classical and scientific education in SC,” founded it in 1854. The entire 145-acre campus is designated as an arboretum, and the school is ranked as one of the top 60 national, private, liberal arts in the country. Several Ashland members are alumnae.
A young man approaching 18 years of age recently approached Prairie Home Companion host Garrison Keillor for advice about what college he should seek out for courses in radio – his passion.
Keillor’s answer was priceless. He said, “I don’t think you need to study radio in college. Most of what you need to know you can learn on the job and most of what you learn in a college course will be outdated soon. What you need from college is an excellent liberal arts education that will give you a broad base of judgment and perspective that will stand you in good stead no matter what sort of career you pursue.” (From an e-mail posting to Keillor 8-21-2010.)
We live in an era of specialization. I hope and pray such educational opportunities will not pass from our midst.