Dean Fealing delivers State of College Address

The IAC State of the College Address was delivered by Dean Kaye Fealing, who spoke on the union of STEM and liberal arts. // Photo courtesy of Ivan Allen College of Liberal Arts

The technological sphere has overtaken the world in the past decade and educational institutions are no exception, but the growing emphasis on the intersection of humanities and STEM puts higher liberal arts education in a unique position. On Sept. 5, Kaye Husbands Fealing, Dean of the Ivan Allen College of Liberal Arts (IAC), took the evening to explain the priorities of the upcoming academic year, convey progress towards their strategic plan and acknowledge student, staff and faculty achievements in the Ivan Allen State of
the College address.  

In 1989, the prospect of creating a liberal arts school at Tech was first introduced with the idea to emphasize the human aspect of technology programs. 

When former Institute President John Crecine proposed to take on “a new form of the technological university by adding breadth, by broadening our intellectual base, by adding intellectual strength and degree programs in non-technical areas in the behavioral, social and policy sciences and in the humanities,’’ in his inaugural address, it was met with skepticism whether such ideals could be smoothly incorporated into the tech-centered curriculums that made up the Institute’s other colleges. 

More than three decades later, IAC is welcoming their largest ever incoming freshman class for the 2023-24 school year as well as 47 new faculty members. This makes them the fourth largest college at Tech, by both student enrollment and size of faculty, and with 30 different current degrees offered, it is clear that IAC and its staff have come a long way since its inception in 1990.

Fealing opened the State of the College address with the statement, “a stronger Ivan College of Liberal Arts leads to a stronger Georgia Tech. I fundamentally believe that is true. That is what we are all working towards. It is something I say to the President often … and he says back to me as well.”

Technology is a rapidly dynamic field that ultimately thrives on innovation and creativity which is a key aspect of what makes IAC, its vision and most importantly its students irreplaceable.

“We explore what the right question is to fix and to work on and then we work on the making part of that and the solutions part of that as well; we’re doing both. We’re not just makers, we are discoverers, we ask questions, we churn … It is so important to ask and discover what the right question is to solve before running off and solving ,” Fealing said. 

New academic initiatives for this school year, including the launch of an interdisciplinary arts center in partnership between the Literature, Media and Communications team and Tech’s libraries, a new minor in Health Policy and Economics and an online masters program in International Security, were also shared. 

“I also want to say that it’s critically important for us to understand something about us and what makes us unique, not just in an intersection with technology, but it is culture…And what we bring to the table is also cultural studies. Understanding humanity. That is a principal aspect of what we do. And we are unapologetic about it. But it is necessary … for the strength ofGeorgia Tech,” Fealing said. 

This is especially important in the midst of this digital age where true, humanistic priorities in solving issues can often be overshadowed by technological innovation. 

While acknowledging the challenges brought on from growing a liberal arts education at a STEM focused school, IAC is also adapting to meet these new demands. As AI continues to evolve, the IAC is meeting those demands with the introduction of a new course in AI ethics this school year. The IAC and other liberal arts institutions like it, enhance the educational experience that is necessary in the tech world. The synergy of critical thinking, ethics, creativity and other skills emphasized in humanities curriculum alongside technical studies is what will best influence the creations of the future. Fealing added, “we do a lot of things where we connect. There are many themes that we can all work on together as a college, and as a college within Georfgia Tech, and therefore across Georgia Tech as well.”