Liberal Arts Consortium Receives Key of Excellence from Phi Beta Kappa

Written by Laura Paskin
December 17, 2014

The Phi Beta Kappa Society, the nation’s oldest and most-widely known academic honor society, presented the Washington Consortium for the Liberal Arts (WaCLA) with the Key of Excellence Award and its $10,000 prize at a reception celebrating the arts and sciences on Wednesday, December 10, 2014. The consortium, an association of organizations, individuals, and public and private higher education institutions including Seattle University, promotes the value of a liberal arts education. College of Arts and Sciences Dean David Powers, who is a member of Phi Beta Kappa, has represented Seattle University in WaCLA since the early planning stages for the consortium.

“Liberal arts graduates continue to do well in the job market,” Powers said, “and that’s a message the consortium promotes across the state. Employers are increasingly seeing the benefits of a rigorous liberal arts education.”

Successful recent WaCLA projects include an employer-educator forum that brought together over 200 academic leaders, regional employers, and state legislators; annual high school and undergraduate scholarship essay contests on the value of the liberal arts; and media outreach.

“The Phi Beta Kappa Society created the Key of Excellence Awards to energize support for the arts and sciences because of their value to the nation,” said Phi Beta Kappa President Katherine Soule. “The Key of Excellence showcases innovative programs that demonstrate the excellence, range and relevance of the arts and sciences to their communities. We aim to show decision makers that arts and sciences education expands opportunity, drives ingenuity, and invests in America."

Powers is a frequent contributor to the debate on the value of a liberal arts education, citing student experiences and increasing research studies and data that demonstrate the value of liberal arts education in the job market. Testimonials on the college’s Value of a Liberal Arts Education webpage provide examples of the varied careers available to individuals with liberal arts degrees.

The College of Arts and Sciences, the largest college in Seattle University, offers 42 undergraduate major degrees, 37 minors, and 6 master's degrees.