LuxEsto - The Digital Magazine of Kalamazoo College

presidents letter

President’s Letter Spring 2024

President Jorge Gonzalez

Last fall, the American Academy of Arts & Sciences published a report on employment outcomes for humanities majors across all 50 states, which offered an insightful view on the earnings prospects of graduates in those majors.

 In Michigan, for example, the report found that the median earnings of humanities majors in the state’s full-time workforce ($66,945 per year) are 63% higher than the median earnings of workers with just a high school degree ($41,197). One in four humanities graduates in the state earns more than $98,378. Humanities graduates are similar to college graduates as a whole in the fields they pursue, with education, service and sales, and management among the top occupations. Within the legal profession, humanities graduates account for 25% of bachelor’s degree holders employed in those jobs.

All of which is to say, despite the narratives you may hear in the media today, the humanities remain a vital part of higher education and provide return on investment to those who pursue them. Their value goes beyond dollars and cents, of course; we know employers are looking for critical thinking skills, strong interpersonal and communications skills, a desire to learn, and an entrepreneurial mindset. The humanities deliver on those skills and more, serving graduates well in any field they choose. I also would argue that the humanities deepen one’s capabilities for joy and for empathy in a richly diverse and complex world. In his opinion piece, “How to Save a Sad, Lonely, Angry and Mean Society,” columnist David Brooks noted, “The hard sciences help us understand the natural world. The social sciences help us measure behavior patterns across populations. But culture and the liberal arts help us enter the subjective experience of particular people: how this unique individual felt; how this other one longed and suffered.” This knowledge, he opined, “help(s) us understand ourselves in light of others.”

Many of our alumni deeply value the time they spent in K humanities courses. When I’m on the road, I am sometimes asked, “We frequently hear about STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) at K; are students still being encouraged to take the humanities?” The answer is a resounding yes.

Our top five most popular majors at K are psychology, biology, business, English and biochemistry. What this well-rounded list does not reveal is the number of students who double major or who major and minor across disciplines. Having benefited from the flexibility of K’s curriculum to take coursework that interests them, many of our STEM majors, for example, go on to pick up second majors or minors in areas like music, languages, studio art and philosophy.

In this issue of LuxEsto, you’ll meet two alumni whose studies at K emphasized the humanities. Both demonstrate that the ability to freely explore across disciplines—mixed with life-changing ingredients like study abroad and internships—can create a well-seasoned recipe for self-confidence and success, whatever one chooses to pursue.

Jorge G Gonzalez sig

Jorge G. Gonzalez

Brighter Light Campaign Logo

Back to LuxEsto Home

In this Issue