University News

Hallwas to Deliver 20th Anniversary Liberal Arts Lecture

August 19, 2022

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MACOMB/MOLINE, IL – To mark the 20th anniversary of the annual John Hallwas Liberal Arts Lecture, Western Illinois University Professor Emeritus John Hallwas will deliver this year's offering, "Liberal Arts Education in a Time of Crisis," at 7 p.m. Thursday, Sept. 1, in the University Union Grand Ballroom.

The lecture series began in 2003 as an initiative of WIU's College of Arts and Sciences, in an effort against slowly declining public interest in broad education, and concern about the negative impact on democracy and social commitment. Hallwas was chosen to deliver the inaugural lecture because of his popularity as a speaker, and because he is the most widely-published professor in WIU's history.

Since then, many noted WIU figures have been chosen to deliver the lecture, including Alvin Goldfarb, the University's 10th president; Rick Hardy, former dean of the Honors College; Sue Martinelli-Fernandez, current dean of the College of Arts and Sciences, and others.

"The Liberal Arts Lecture is an outgrowth of the College of Arts and Sciences liberal arts discussion group, formed in 2002 as a way to express commitment to a liberal arts education at Western, and share approaches for maintaining a high quality educational program," said Martinelli-Fernandez. "Dr. Hallwas wrote, 'In the face of increasing vocational emphasis in higher education, pervasive shallowness in our culture, and excessive individualism (that overlooks social commitment), we believe that the liberal arts component of our bachelor's degree program should dare to assert that there is inherent value in learning, that human purposes must always receive reflective reconsideration, that coherence of thought and clarity of expression are essential values, that breadth of outlook and cultural sensitivity are indispensable, and most importantly, that transformation of the self to prepare for civic responsibility should be central to the undergraduate experience.'"

The College of Arts and Sciences announced the renaming of the lecture to the John Hallwas Liberal Arts Lecture in September 2004, at Hallwas's retirement reception, where he was honored for 34 years of service to WIU as an English professor and archivist, as well as a public scholar, regional historian and community activist.

Hallwas continues to write on educational and cultural matters, and still speaks widely. He will discuss two worsening public problems: the mounting damage to U.S. democracy and social purpose in our time and the impending, worldwide environmental catastrophe – both of which call for a well-informed, thoughtful, and committed general public.

The event is open free to the public and light refreshments will be served. For more information, call (309) 298-1828.

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