President’s Peace Commission examines importance of liberal arts education

President’s Peace Commission examines importance of liberal arts education

Three-day event honors artist Valdez with 2015 Art of Peace Award

The Spring 2015 President’s Peace Commission at St. Mary’s University will discuss the value of liberal arts education in a program titled “Students in Debt, a People in Debt: Indebted to a Vocation?”

President's Peace Commission Art of Peace Vincent Valdez

Provost Andre Hampton presents the 2015 Art of Peace Award to artist Vincent Valdez.

The three-day program runs Tuesday, Feb. 24 through Thursday, Feb. 26. A highlight will be the presentation of the Art of Peace Award to renowned San Antonio artist Vincent Valdez on Wednesday at 1:20 p.m. in University Center Conference Room A.

Valdez is the chair of the Painting and Drawing Department at the Southwest School of Art. He grew up in San Antonio and received a full scholarship to The Rhode Island School of Design, where he earned a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree in 2000. At age 26, he became the youngest artist to have a solo exhibition at the McNay Art Museum.

His other exhibition venues include: The Los Angeles County Museum of Art, The Snite Museum of Art at the University of Notre Dame, The Frye Museum in Seattle, The Mexican Museum of National Art in Chicago, The Parsons Museum in Paris, The Smithsonian Museum of American Art and more. His 2014 project at Artpace, “The Strangest Fruit,” was a series of large paintings inspired by the lost/erased history of lynched Mexicans and Mexican-Americans in Texas from the late 1800s into the 1930s.

The Art of Peace Award is given annually to an artist in any medium whose life work has promoted peace, justice and understanding. The President’s Peace Commission was established in 1984 with a mission to raise awareness in the St. Mary’s and San Antonio communities about issues of peace and justice. The Commission develops and hosts multi-day programs each spring semester for students, faculty, staff and the community.

Through the symposia and other activities, the President’s Peace Commission seeks to build within the St. Mary’s University community a greater awareness of the Roman Catholic and Marianist perspectives on peace and justice. The President’s Peace Commission reflects the University community through student, staff, and faculty representatives appointed by the University President.

This year’s event invites scholars, practitioners and leaders in the Catholic Church to discuss four key questions:

  • How do we encourage students to pursue a liberal-arts-based education – following their passions, talents and vocational calling, regardless of legitimate concerns about economic security?
  • Can we make a living doing what we love? Or can we redefine wealth in non-traditional ways – more than simply a yearly salary and the conspicuous consumption of goods?
  • In a nation that seemingly values technical degrees in specific fields, why is a liberal-arts-based education invaluable to students and society as a whole?
  • How can students use their degrees in the fields that they love to create a more socially just world that promotes Marianist values and the Common Good?

Schedule
Tuesday, Feb. 24
9:45 a.m.         Debt: Unmasking the Beast
11:10 a.m.       Is a Living Wage Really Letting Us Live?
12:35 p.m.       The Shackles of Debt: The Weight on Society

Wednesday, Feb. 25
9:20 a.m.         Vocation: An Invitation to Happiness
10:20 a.m.       Money Can’t Buy Happiness … So How Do We Define Wealth?
11:20 a.m.       Is College the Only Ticket to Success?
12:20 p.m.       Hear From Your Peers: The Value of Student Engagement
1:20 p.m.         Art of Peace Award

Thursday, Feb. 26
9:45 a.m.        The World Through a CORE Perspective: What Makes St. Mary’s Unique?
11:10 a.m.       Caring for People: Whose Job is it Anyway?
12:35 p.m.       Paying Back, Paying Forward: The Value of a Liberal Arts Education

St. Mary's University, founded in 1852, is the first institution of higher learning in San Antonio and the oldest Catholic university in the Southwest. It offers 75 programs, including doctoral and law programs, and has a diverse student population of about 3,800 of all faiths and backgrounds. Its vision, as a Catholic and Marianist liberal arts institution, is to become one of the finest private universities in the region, a gateway for graduates to professional lives as ethical leaders in Texas, the nation and the world.