In the second part of this interview, Dean Phebe Hayes of the College of General Studies talks about why she loves UL, her research, and her goals for her College.

To read the first part of this interview, click here.

You said you love UL. What do you love about it?

This place is home.

I've had offers from other places. LSU has offered me a position five times. Part of the reason I didn't take the offers is that I didn't want to drive. But also, UL gave me the opportunity to work in higher education.

I'm very loyal. As a Dean, I can contribute to the quality of life here. I want this school, this community to improve. I have family and friends here, this is where they come to school. I want this to be a good place for my kids and my families, so no one feels like I did in 1972. And LSU's too big, too impersonal.

I love this place, it's a good place for people.

What was your area of research?

I was looking at learning and language disorders in gifted students. No one believed that was possible. People felt there was no such thing as a gifted child with language problems. But there's as much diversity in the gifted population as there is in any other population.

At that time, the policy was that when a child was tested for gifted, the speech therapist only screened for them for voice, fluency & articulation. So we just gave them standardized tests, which is exactly what gifted students excel at, so you never catch the other language problems.

We know that there is a correlation between learning disability and language disorders. A lot of highly educated people, doctors and lawyers, have problems pulling together information, and organizing and presenting it.

What are your goals for the College of General Studies?

I'm want to work on interdisciplinary studies. The standard college curriculum is multi-disciplinary, not interdisciplinary. So we are connecting more with other Colleges. We want to develop curriculum plans around a particular theme or a project; right now there is not enough intertwining. So I want to work with some of the other Colleges to develop a more integrated curriculum.

What is the value of the integrated curriculum, as opposed to the multi-disciplinary curriculum?

It is the idea of students being critical learners, understanding how knowledge works across different disciplines. As a society we have many ills, and too many people can't think outside of their disciplines. If they can't combine different fields to think flexibly, then we won't be able to design the solutions for the new century. I don't think the old solutions and approaches will work in the future. The problems will evolve, and we need people who can think beyond their disciplinary training.

One of the things I love to do, is to problem-solve. But I don't solve problems in speech pathology and communicative disorders just by using my training there. When I look at a learning problem, I also look at other disciplines. I look at the public policy on these issues, I look at other learning disabilities, I pull from all of my education and experience to solve the problem.

We also need practical knowledge. I had experience as a speech therapist working with children, and I know that children are much broader than their labels. I also looked at the children in my own family, bright, quick learners-- one of them was reading at three. From my experience with these kids, I knew that sometimes they weren't like the textbook gifted child. When they spoke, they were often average or below-average communicators. I was working with real people, very complex beings. I had to understand families, and how children have certain roles in families.

You don't recognize that from a book or a test. You recognize that from practical experience.

It sounds like one key to problem-solving, is keeping an open mind.

Yes. I want to promote intellectual interchange. I want our students exposed to faculty and other students involved in open, open-minded discourse.

And creativity. I really believe that the flexibility in my thinking came from my liberal education, starting at Xavier, and then continuing here at UL.

So I want our kids to have a culminating capstone project. I want them to have something that will allow them to pull all of this information together, so that when they leave UL, they will be able to think outside the box. Not just to get a job, but to teach them to be critical thinkers, those who can solve problems, so that we can have the informed and enlightened citizen we need.