Universal or University?

by The Cowl Editor on January 26, 2017


Photo courtesy of youtube.com

by Brianna Abbott ’17

Opinion Co-Editor

Between packed study spaces splashed with green, computer labs that glimpse into the future, and a late-night food window that brings hoards of hungry students, the new Arthur F. and Patricia Ryan Center for Business Studies has been nothing short of a success. With this new success and the continuous rise of the Providence College School of Business (PCSB), new questions also arise about the consequences for Providence College as a whole as the PCSB begins to break off from the classic liberal arts.

As a double major in English and Chemistry, I live on the opposite end of campus (in Albertus Magnus Hall) and have little interaction with PCSB. However, because I felt like I should learn something about money, I enrolled in “Personal Financial Planning” for the semester. I was excited to see what the business school was all about—especially because of the opening of the new building—and I even went to the Villanova basketball game screening when the school was giving away free lawn chairs.

Lawn chairs, however, were only for PCSB students, meaning that I couldn’t have one even though I was taking a business class and there were still chairs left.

Although I understand that PCSB is excited about its new building and the growth of its program —as it should be—and should be allowed to celebrate accordingly, this celebration of a school rather than a program demonstrates a clear break between PCSB and the School of Arts and Sciences.

PCSB is the largest program on campus; 25 percent of incoming freshmen declare a business major, and PCSB graduates about 40 percent of the students at Providence College every year with numbers on the rise.

To combat the massive influx of students attempting to enter PCSB, it recently instituted a minimum GPA requirement of 2.5, and admission to Providence College with a declared business major is becoming more competitive. And with the opening of the Arthur F. and Patricia Ryan Center for Business Studies, it now has its own separate building.

PCSB students are still liberal arts students first, taking the Core Curriculum along with the rest of their classmates. I think it would even be beneficial to include a business requirement in the Core Curriculum. However, PCSB has grown into a school rather than a program, and this continued growth and separation will only increase with time.

It looks as if the College is heading down the path to become a small, liberal arts university. Except there is no such thing as a small, liberal arts university.

In the coming years, PC needs to decide what it is going to be and what it considers its top priorities. We are in a transitional age, and employment rather than education has been the cornerstone of the modern college student. And although the new business school and the rise of the program are excellent for the College, it raises serious questions about the College’s identity as a whole. Are we an all-inclusive, liberal arts college, or are we about to break from our past and explore larger options? Are we universal or university?

With the blessing of a new building upon us, we should use the new Ryan Center not only as an opportunity to reflect on where we came from, but also —and more importantly—to take a look at where we are going.