Message from the Dean

Joan L. Griffin, Ph.D.
Joan L. Griffin, Ph.D.

In welcoming you to Cal Lutheran's College of Arts and Sciences, I am inviting you to participate in a very old tradition: liberal arts education.

The "liberal" in liberal arts means "liberty" or "freedom." The tradition dates back to classical antiquity (4th century B.C. Greece) and the Middle Ages when most people were slaves or serfs. A liberal arts education freed people to work with their minds as well as their bodies. In the 21st century, a liberal arts education continues to be about freedom. It liberates your imagination. It helps you develop your emotional and spiritual life as well as your intellect. It frees you to think new thoughts as well as to critically evaluate and either affirm or dispute old thoughts. A liberal arts education is meant to enable good judgment — and, more importantly, good actions. That is why Cal Lutheran's mission is to educate "leaders for a global society who are strong in character," as well as judgment.

As a Lutheran university, Cal Lutheran is committed to another old idea: a liberal arts education frees you to serve others. Martin Luther called this idea berufung — "calling" or "vocation." That is, you become most fully yourself when you use your talents to contribute to the welfare of the community and the environment.

One way that you can accomplish this is by achieving excellence in your profession. The "arts" in "liberal arts" refer to the studies — whether math or music, the sciences or sociology, English or exercise science — that help you make connections across many fields of knowledge to become an effective decision-maker in a complex world. As you become proficient in your major field of study, you will also develop the writing, thinking, speaking and quantitative skills that will serve you well in all of your professional endeavors.

At Cal Lutheran, old traditions behave in new ways. Through internships, research with your professors, performance opportunities in the arts, and experiential learning in the community you can translate what you learn into what you do. In this way, an education rooted in the past will prepare you to help create a hopeful future not only for yourself, but also for the world in which you will lead and serve.

Joan L. Griffin, Ph.D.
Dean, College of Arts and Sciences