CHIEF COMMUNICATIONS OFFICER
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CLASS NO TES
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Bucknell Magazine (USPS 068-880,
ISSN 1044-7563, Vol. 10, Issue 1),
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here is an image of Steve Jobs, the late creative visionary behind
Apple, that is forever etched in my mind. Gaunt of face and frame, he’s
standing on stage in his trademark black turtleneck and jeans, gesturing
toward the projection of a street sign that marks an intersection. The
top sign reads technology; the bottom one reads liberal arts.
That Jobs invoked the liberal arts during his final public speech, just months
before his death in 2011, is significant. “I thought it was worth repeating that it’s in
Apple’s DNA that technology alone is not enough — that it’s technology married
with liberal arts, married with the humanities that yields us the result that makes
our heart sing,” he told his last audience.
In an interview Jobs gave many years earlier he similarly espoused the liberal-arts-meets-tech philosophy of his company.
“Part of what made the Macintosh great was that the people working on it were
musicians and poets and artists and zoologists and historians who also happened
to be the best computer scientists in the world. We all brought to this effort a very
liberal arts attitude that we wanted to pull in the best that we saw in these other
fields into this field. I don’t think you get that if you are very narrow.” In fact, it
was his study of calligraphy at Reed College that Jobs credits for the beautiful
typography he designed for the first Mac. “It was beautiful, historical, artistically
subtle in a way that science can’t capture, and I found it fascinating,” he said.
Examples of Job’s philosophy are readily apparent at Bucknell today, as new
trustee David Feinberg, president and CEO of Geisinger Health System, pointed
out during his first Board of Trustees meeting this fall. “To study at an institution
such as Bucknell is to hone the skills that you need to succeed in life, regardless of
how you define that success. We can teach the science in medical school, but give
me the students who can think critically and communicate well.”
At Bucknell we offer an educational experience in ways that often transcend
the classic definition of a liberal arts institution. For instance, in addition to our
College of Arts & Sciences, we offer robust engineering and management programs;
our size affords our students the resources of a larger university, but in an intimate,
residential-learning environment; and our athletics program comprises 27 Division
I teams. This distinctive opportunity for a liberal learning experience is the essence
of Bucknell, as indicated in our mission statement, which reads in part: “Bucknell
is a unique national university where liberal arts and professional programs
complement each other. Bucknell educates students for a lifetime of critical
thinking and strong leadership characterized by continued intellectual exploration,
creativity and imagination.”
Life is animated by this kind of rich, broad learning. It makes for better
employees and in the long run — and more importantly — more interested and
interesting people. ’ray Bucknell.