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The College of Liberal and Fine Arts


More Than Just Digs

More Than Just Digs

UTSA anthropologists are studying how people today are adapting to a wide range of global pressures, from climate change to rainforest exploitation to health care needs.

Snapshots of Texas

Snapshots of Texas

John Miller Morris, professor in the political science and geography department, has set out to capture another time by collecting almost 10,000 antique photographs of the Lone Star State.

Road to Rhodes

The Road to Rhodes

With guidance from COLFA faculty, two COLFA undergraduates advanced to the final stage of competition for the prestigious Rhodes Scholarship last fall-just the second and third UTSA students ever to do so.

Signature Experiences

Signature Experience

COLFA's capstone courses are designed as both a philosophical statement for the college and a way to show students the many ways to put a liberal arts degree to work.

Women Pioneers

The Experience in Practice

History professor Rhonda Gonzales' senior seminar examines little-known but significant local African American women.

Man of Steel

Man of Steel

Gregory Elliott, chairman of the Department of Art and Art History, creates elaborate, eye-popping works of art, bending and forcing steel where it doesn't want to go.

A Living Laboratory for Sociologist

A Living Laboratory

UTSA sociologists are probing serious issues of cultural assimilation, health disparities and the role of religion with individuals and families.

Broadening Horizons

Broadening Horizons

Diversity is the underlying theme throughout all COLFA courses.

Alumni Profile Tom Czekanski

Alumni Profile: Tom Czekanski '82

The COLFA graduate is director of collections and exhibits at the National World War II Museum in New Orleans.


Welcome to another edition of Ovations, highlighting the outstanding achievements of students, faculty and supporters of the UTSA College of Liberal and Fine Arts.

Dean Daniel Gelo

What the liberal arts are, and why these disciplines are important, are perennial questions in the academy. Whereas many written definitions and justifications have been offered, nowadays energy is spent more on balancing conflicting expectations about the liberal arts and defining these disciplines through actions as well as words.

Azar Nafisi, author of the best-selling 2003 memoir Reading Lolita in Tehran, offers one characterization that many of us would agree with: "For me, the core idea of a liberal education involves the idea of the other, and curiosity about the other. All of us should come out of our skin and think about others." Nafisi then goes on to reflect on the relevance and value of our studies, and her comments embody the inherent contradictions. She first lauds efforts to apply liberal arts insights by, for example, incorporating works of literature in medical education (an initiative some COLFA faculty have been pursuing). But then, "Literature is literature, and we should read it because it is literature, not because it is handmaiden to anything else…."

UTSA faculty in the arts, humanities and social sciences continually and effectively mediate such contradictions. They uncover or nurture the passions that propel students in their specialized courses of study. They instill the necessary factual knowledge while also showing students how to formulate and address problems. They demand that students imagine the liberal arts in new ways. And through such mechanisms as the pioneering COLFA Signature Experience, they make available to every COLFA student a supervised application of liberal arts training in some real-world setting.

Faculty success in helping our students to understand and carry forward with the value of an education in the arts, humanities or social sciences is evident in so many ways. One need only witness the outstanding placement rate for degree recipients in our relatively new English doctoral program, or the preparation of UTSA's Rhodes Scholarship competitors, both of whom were COLFA students tutored by COLFA faculty. And the infusion of diversity themes throughout the COLFA curriculum speaks to Nafisi's notion of thinking about others.

I hope you enjoy reading about our current efforts in defining the liberal arts, and share in our sense of purpose and accomplishment.

Dean Daniel J. Gelo