The following opinion piece by UM President Donna M. Shalala appeared in The Miami Herald on September 28, 2012.

CELEBRATING HUMANITIES AND THE ARTS AT THE U

Languages and literature. History and philosophy. The visual and performing arts.

The arc of human expression and thought can be traced through the humanities and arts over millennia to the dawn of civilization.

We have come to know ourselves through the representation of words, images, gestures and sounds that preserve the past, mediate the present, and enlighten the future.

It is vitally important that as a society we actively support the humanities and arts and engage in the ongoing national dialogue regarding their significant value to a truly global education.

Last month, Phi Beta Kappa Society, America’s oldest and most widely known academic honorary society, sent a resolution to Florida Gov. Rick Scott and to the members of the Florida Blue Ribbon Task Force on Higher Education urging the task force “to give due and serious regard to the role of the state’s higher education system in securing the benefits of study in the liberal arts and sciences to the students of the state.”

Both Miami Dade College President Eduardo J. Padrón and I are members of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences’ Commission on Humanities & Social Sciences which has been charged by Congress to find innovative ways for the U.S. to maintain national excellence in the humanities and social sciences. We recently co-hosted a forum on the humanities and sciences as part of a national effort to involve government, schools and universities, cultural institutions, businesses, and philanthropies in supporting and strengthening these areas of knowledge.

There is no better place where the humanities and arts flourish and persevere than institutions of higher learning. Forget the outdated concept of the ivory tower, today’s universities and colleges are dynamic public forums that enrich our communities through boundless creativity and ceaseless inquiry.

The University of Miami is delighted to present Taking Flight: The Year of the Humanities and the Arts, a sweeping celebration of scholarship, research, community engagement, and creative expression. We are taking this opportunity to highlight an amazing multidisciplinary calendar of special events, performances, and inspirational programming throughout the year.

We invite the greater community to explore and enjoy all that the university has to offer — music, theatre, cinema, art exhibits, digital collections and publications, seminars and lectures — all are open to the public, many with free or low-priced admission.

To find out more about Taking Flight: The Year of the Humanities and the Arts at the University of Miami, please visit our website at miami.edu/takingflight or email takingflight@miami.edu.

South Florida is fortunate to be home to several outstanding universities and colleges, all of them wonderful and welcoming educational and cultural resources for people of all ages and backgrounds.

Let your imagination take flight and let your spirit soar with the humanities and the arts.