Published: June 10, 2024

Glen Krutz, dean of the College of Arts and Sciences, sees the power and promise of an expansive, liberal-arts education. Traditionally, this concept has been referred to as “breadth.”

Krutz

Glen Krutz

Now, though, the college is framing this time-tested concept with a new (to the college and to the language) term: ANDing, which can be a noun, an adjective or verb that describes the practice of studying a divergent pair (or series) of interests, even combining them.

So, ANDing could describe someone who fuses the study of sociology and physics (a social science and a natural science) or who studies neuroscience and dance. And so on.

Krutz shared some thoughts about ANDing, higher education and his view of the college itself. That exchange follows. 

Question: The college’s heralding of “ANDing” as a concept involves a kind of wordplay that might prompt people to ask what, exactly, it is. How do you define “ANDing”?

Krutz: To me “ANDing” is about finding and linking your multiple interests to find your passion. Rather than narrow-casting on any specific topic, we are encouraging students, staff and faculty to think creatively about what makes them tick intellectually. It is often multiple topics that converge, hence the powerful notion of “ANDing.”

What kinds of reactions have you observed to the ANDing campaign?

Krutz: Everyone wants to tell me about their “AND.” People say, “I like that; I’m an AND-er.” We are getting nice responses from students, staff, faculty, prospective students and their parents, and fellow deans (the latter of whom see it as a signal that the College of Arts and Sciences wants to be a partner, which we do).

Across the country, higher education is facing some challengessome emerging from state legislaturesand some opportunities; as a political scientist, how do you view the challenges and opportunities for higher education?

Krutz: Over the past three decades, public higher education in Colorado and across America has had to be resilient. As states reduced their share of the cost of university education, which was accelerated by reduced sales tax revenues owing to the growth of internet commerce, universities have had to turn to other revenue sources, including tuition and fees, private donations and research grants. 

The downside to relying more on tuition and fees to fund public higher education is that the cost to students and families has increased sharply, which can pinch access to post-secondary opportunities. We want college to be a right, not a privilege. 

Therefore, we have invested considerable effort in raising donations for student scholarship and need-based aid. The opportunity of a higher education remains a powerful lever in American society, and a college degree for first-generation students can change the economic trajectory of a family forever.

The other challenge from state legislatures over the past decade relates to what we might call “input” from public officials about what we teach subject-wise in public universities. With increasing partisan polarization in American politics and the accompanying social media vitriol, it is not unusual today to hear some question how we teach in universities. Accusations of indoctrination of students by universities are not unusual to see these days. 

However, this fear is unfounded, in my view. The reality is that students are being exposed to more, not fewer, perspectives on a university campus than when I was a student in the 1980s. The sum of all the different perspectives is a group of graduates ready to engage in society, who are empathetic and who will contribute to the public good in America.

As a seasoned university administrator who is relatively new to Colorado, what is your assessment of the strengths and areas of potential growth of CU Boulder’s College of Arts and Sciences?

Krutz: A&S is a wonderful college and CU’s largest. Virtually all CU Boulder students take classes with us, especially in their first year. The staff and faculty of A&S are incredibly dedicated to student access and success, intellectual discovery and community engagement. 

The sheer amount of excellence in our staff and faculty truly runs the gamut; it is not located in just a few crown-jewel departments. CU in general is a sticky institution, which means that staff and faculty want to stay here. That said, we need to continue working hard to be more welcoming to BIPOC staff, faculty and students to make A&S and CU Boulder more representative of Colorado as a whole.

Our emphasis on student success and research/creative activity excellence is quite apparent. We will continue to work on that. We have two key areas where we have significant potential to grow. First, as I alluded to above, we need to be more accessible to BIPOC students, staff and faculty. I believe strongly that CU Boulder, as a public institution, is a provider of opportunity, and that that opportunity should be available to all. 

Second, in A&S, we need to continue to innovate in online education. I don’t ever see a day when online will eclipse our in-person approach on the beautiful Boulder campus. However, students today like flexibility in instruction, including having occasional classes online, and especially at the graduate level, there is demand for high-quality online master’s degrees. The key word there is “quality.” 

I have done a lot of online teaching myself, and it can be quite interactive and feature depth and analysis just like a face-to-face class. We are not talking about the correspondence classes of yesteryear.

Is there anything you’ve found surprising or especially gratifying about living in the Centennial State?

Krutz: As a person who grew up in the West (Reno, Nevada) and later spent 25 years on the central plains, living on the Front Range, at the intersection of the high plains and the Rocky Mountains, I find so compelling. There is beauty and wonder looking in both directions, and there are students, families and communities that need us in both directions. 

I have also been impressed with how engaging and friendly Coloradans are, the multitude of live music options and the local breweries! A highlight of last fall was driving up to see the aspens changing color over four consecutive weekends.