The Great Hall: A Story of Promise, Lost Opportunity, and the Value of the Liberal Arts Public

http://ir.library.oregonstate.edu/concern/honors_college_theses/f1881n821

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  • The liberal arts have always struggled to find their place in the technically oriented land-grant university. Land-grant universities were tasked by the 1862 Morrill Act with providing both a practical and liberal education for all students. The liberal arts, however, were quickly sidelined from this dual purpose with the increasing emphasis placed on the practical arts during the two world wars. This thesis narrates the struggle of the liberal arts at Oregon State University to achieve equality with the practical arts on the basis of their intrinsic benefits to society instead of merely as a utilitarian servant to fields yielding tangible developments. As a case study, this thesis uses the story of the Great Hall: a large performing arts center that was slated to be built on the OSU campus during the late 1970’s using donations raised by the OSU Foundation. Although the Great Hall was ultimately too grand and expensive for its time, the great promise and potential of the building serves as a window into how the liberal arts have been and continue to be perceived and prioritized in land-grant universities, as well as how society values the arts and culture in relation to practical development.
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