Letter: New SUU president should avoid Democrat stereotype

This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2013, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.

Soon-to-be Southern Utah University president Scott Wyatt remarked in the online version of an interview in the Nov. 22 Tribune ("Regents choose Snow College president to head SUU"), "… we have a need to help educate the community about what a liberal arts university really is. It's not a hangout for Democrats throwing pots."

He went on to explain that the word "liberal" in the academic sense means a broad-based education. It stems from a centuries-old university system in which students were expected to pursue studies in all known fields. It has no political connotation, and the idea that some people think it does would be laughable if it didn't indicate such a serious misunderstanding of higher education in our country.

While his choice of words plays into unfortunate stereotypes, it's not likely that Mr. Wyatt meant to disparage local Democrats. As someone who is soon to become one of the leading educators in Iron County, he surely knows that among them are many valuable members of our communities, including educators, attorneys, business owners, health care workers, government employees, and many others.

So, we hope that Mr. Wyatt will find another analogy and allow us to help him dispel the myth about what a "liberal arts" education really is.

Leigh R. Washburn

Chair, Iron County Democrats

Cedar City