Eastern Oregon University > Academics > New dean builds leaders through liberal arts

New dean builds leaders through liberal arts

Dean Nathan LoweBuilding leaders, partnerships through liberal arts education

Oct. 2, 2017 La Grande, Ore. − While some might question the practicality of a liberal arts degree, Dean of the College of Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences Nathan Lowe believes firmly in the increasing necessity and value of history, music, sociology, English and other fields in the humanities and arts.

He said these courses develop communication, project management, critical analysis and creative thinking — habits associated with leadership roles later in life.

“Our programs teach skills and provide experiences that make strong leaders,” Lowe said. “Our world needs empathetic and creative leaders, so it’s important that we celebrate these degrees and the qualities they deliver.”

Lowe, who joined EOU as dean in August, hopes to equip students in the newly dubbed College of Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences to harness these skills and leverage them as creative and professional assets.

“We’re changing the story we tell about liberal arts majors,” Lowe said. “We know that these graduates develop flexibility, harness creativity and adapt quickly — essential attributes that prepare them to contribute to a dynamic society.”

The innovative, hands-on partnerships Lowe has in mind will encourage students to apply their knowledge prior to graduation. He plans to develop professional experiences and internships that prepare students for career and civic engagement while deepening EOU’s connection to the community.

“The community becomes its own kind of laboratory,” Lowe said, “Puzzling over and solving real problems becomes part of the curriculum. Quite frankly, this model is more possible here than anywhere else in the state.”

Faculty members will supervise interdisciplinary projects and support students as they they apply creative problem solving to local and regional issues. Lowe said internships in town governments, with non-profit organizations, or among professional artists will embed students in their communities throughout the region and state, making EOU a more visible part of the economy and culture.

As a dean, Lowe’s charge involves supporting faculty members as the new college defines its identity. With more than a decade as a faculty member and a recent step into administrative leadership, Lowe said he is excited to be part of developing that identity alongside colleagues.

“Our college’s identity will emerge from how faculty members see the programs working together to support student success and propel graduates toward meaningful futures,” Lowe said.

He went through a similar restructuring process when he worked in Wisconsin, and said EOU’s recent progress promises an increasing number of graduates with the confidence and competence to succeed.

“This is a campus community made up of passionate and compassionate people,” Lowe said. “Every office on campus is thinking about how to make the student experience better — that mission is at the front of everyone’s work.”

Lowe received his MFA in creative writing from the University of Idaho, and said his time in Moscow deepened his connection to the Inland Northwest. He and his family feel at home in the region and are always looking for the next outdoor adventure.

“I plan to be the voice of celebrating [arts, humanities and social science] degrees,” he said. “The magic we do at EOU is turn personal passion into life’s work, turn curiosity into pathways for positive change. It’s truly transformational.”

Learn more about the transformational education EOU provides at eou.edu/the-good-word.