tu homecoming

The sun sets on the TU campus just as the Homecoming festivities begin at the University of Tulsa in Tulsa on Friday October 13, 2017. JESSIE WARDARSKI/ Tulsa World

A few years back a student of mine transferred to a state university, where a professor pulled him aside after the first essay and asked, "How did you learn to think like this?"

He gave that professor a copy of my syllabus and email address, but the professor already knew he could not do what I do; his classes were too large.

The University of Tulsa has taken decades to bring together from across the U.S. and around the globe one of the finest liberal arts faculties anywhere. Make no mistake: We humanists are key to the university's success.

TU graduates — and arts and sciences job placements equal those in engineering and business — get great jobs and are accepted into the best graduate schools.

They do well in business too (ask Eric Marshall, founder of Marshall Brewing) because critical thinking — which is what I teach in "Gangster Films," honors and every upper-division German course — is a pillar of our mission.

It's what distinguishes us, because it's hard to do and even harder to teach. That it's well taught at TU makes TU worth attending.

Critical thinking cannot be taught by lecture or online. It will never be delivered by professors who do not themselves engage in daring, demanding, time-consuming research.

Yet while TU is proclaiming its commitment to critical thinking and ethical behavior, it is pushing up course loads and class sizes.

This contradiction has to make us wonder: Have critical thinking and ethical behavior already flown the coop?

Editor's Note: Victor Udwin is an associate professor in German and comparative literature at TU.

Letters to the editor are encouraged. Send letters to letters@tulsaworld.com.

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