UK, Wildcats respond to Bevin’s college comments


Matt Bevin

Sarah Ladd

Gov. Matt Bevin recently urged universities to focus on higher paying, in high demand programs as opposed to other majors, like dance and literature.

The Associated Press reported the Governor’s comments, which were made Sept. 12.

“Find entire parts of your campus … that don’t need to be there,” Bevin said. “If you’re studying interpretive dance, God bless you, but there’s not a lot of jobs right now in America looking for people with that as a skill set.”

Bevin justified this by explaining that too many college graduates are unable to find jobs.

UK Personal Relations Executive Director Jay Blanton issued a response statement.

“Gov. Bevin is right to challenge us to do more to help students graduate on time, without debt and with opportunity,” Blanton said.

He said UK’s retention and graduation rates are rising, with a goal of 90 percent and 70 percent, respectively, by 2020.

Changes have been made to better help students, Blanton said, such as a new approach to financial aid and student advising and counseling, as well as added academic advisers and mental health counselors.

Blanton said the number of health, science, technology, engineering and math graduates has risen 22 percent in the last six years. Some of UK’s most popular majors are biology and business.

“We are allocating resources in response ot student demand,” Blanton said, citing the recent $112 million science building. 

“Employers also tell us they need graduates who communicate well, think critically and work well in teams. These ‘soft skills’ are exactly what students learn in majors and classes in English, history, the humanities and fine arts, among others,” Blanton said.

Secondary English education major Kelci Jones said she was put off by Bevin’s comments. She said she feels college should be about passion, not money.

“Everyone has their own special skills and areas of interest. It’s not fair to force students into majors they aren’t passionate about,” Jones said. “If that happens, you are just creating worker bees who are passionless about their careers.”

Brianna Winn, an integrated strategic communications major with an English minor, said she feels removing arts programs from colleges only hurts the job market.

“People will just move to other states where their program is available,” Winn said.

Winn said she is worried that KEES money could be taken away from liberal arts majors.

“Is (Bevin) going to only let people who have suitable majors to him use it?” she said.

English professor Pearl James said Bevin’s comments were “unfortunate.”

“Universities are for maintaining traditions and developing new knowledge,” James said. “They are for preserving and extending knowledge in all fields.”

She said the arts community is part of what makes Lexington great.

“Art is good for the economy– it is good for society,” she said.

She said students are paying for their education, not the governor, so they should choose their own major. She said there is no way to know which parts of a student’s education will end up being most important.

“Universities are not factories,” she said.