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An Oversimplification

As a faculty member at a highly selective liberal arts college, I need to comment on your recent article entitled "Doing Science Off The Beaten Track At Liberal Arts Schools" (Linda Marsa, The Scientist, Nov. 23, 1992, page 21). The article is incorrect in presenting an oversimplified view of what a liberal arts college is like. A well-informed scientist would never think of saying, "The University of Thus-and-Such is a great science school"; he or she would articulate a more informed view of

Steven Kolmes
As a faculty member at a highly selective liberal arts college, I need to comment on your recent article entitled "Doing Science Off The Beaten Track At Liberal Arts Schools" (Linda Marsa, The Scientist, Nov. 23, 1992, page 21). The article is incorrect in presenting an oversimplified view of what a liberal arts college is like.

A well-informed scientist would never think of saying, "The University of Thus-and-Such is a great science school"; he or she would articulate a more informed view of the university in question by saying what the strong science departments or programs were. Just as a university has specific strengths due to history, facilities, and staffing, liberal arts colleges are composed of numerous (smaller) departments or programs. There is no such thing as a homogeneously excellent set of science departments at any college.

To use an example I am familiar with, the 50 "science-active colleges" on...

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