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Liberal Arts Degrees Lead to Rotten Jobs… in Daugaard Administration

Maybe Dennis Daugaard is right: getting a liberal arts degree dooms graduates to crappy jobs... in the Daugaard Administration.

A friend of the blog sifted through public records for information about the educational background of various officials in South Dakota state government. The analysis found a dangerously high number of suspicious characters who studied liberal artsy fields instead of good, solid, breadwinning technical subjects like welding. Among these nefarious scholars of the humanities:

First Name Last Name Title Initial Degree Major
Dennis Daugaard Governor Government
Tony Venhuizen Chief of Staff History
Political Science
Kim Malsam-Rysdon Senior Advisor Political Science
Nathan Sanderson Director of Policy & Operations Agriculture Education
Jim Seward General Counsel Political Science
Jim Soyer Legislative Director English Education
Laura Ringling Policy Analyst English
Kelsey Pritchard Assistant Director of Communications Politics
Grace Kessler Director of Constituent Services Politics
Jim Hagen Tourism Political Science
Melody Schopp Education Elementary Education
Doneen Hollingsworth Health Political Science

An English major analyzing policy! Education majors advising (who'd'a thunk that?)! Political scientists, veritable Aristotles, running Health and Tourism! Is that all the opportunity their liberal arts studies could get these poor souls?

Let that be a lesson to all your Girls Staters as you consider your careers in welding.


  1. 96Tears 2014.12.09

    Guv DD's Edict #16: "Do as I say, not as I do!"

    Guv DD's Edict #23: "Dare ye not hold Me accountable to any consistency unless I say so."

  2. Donald Pay 2014.12.09

    Luv it. Pretty much detroys DD's b.s., or does it? Who wants to work for a fool? I guess a lot of people with liberal arts degrees. Hmmmm.

  3. Wayne B. 2014.12.09

    Funny, to me it looks as though most of the folks on that list took the "right" major to wind up in public service. People interested in government, politics, and public service naturally gravitate towards political science (or its derivatives).

    And Cory, that English major has a law degree... sounds like the right kind of person to analyze policy to me (on paper at least)

    No wonder our governor bashes philosophy majors - none are on his staff. I also don't see art history majors...

  4. Mike B 2014.12.09

    Mike Rowe has some interesting insights -

    Of the roughly three million jobs that companies are struggling to fill, Rowe said only 8 to 12 percent require a college degree.

    “That’s not me saying don’t go to college. I’m saying, to start your life [$150,000] in the hole, [$80,000] in the hole with your art history major…that’s why you’ve got a trillion dollars in debt. These kids can’t find a job that they’ve been trained for, and the expectation is, it should be waiting for me. It ain’t.”

  5. Wayne B. 2014.12.09

    I'm a huge fan of Mike Rowe & mikeroweWorks.

    Mike said it best:

    “It’s not about, this is good or this is bad,” Rowe said. “It’s about, when did it make sense to say one size fits everybody? It never ever ever made sense to do that, and yet we’re still selling education the same way we sold it when you and I were in high school.”

  6. Owen reitzel 2014.12.09

    I guess Republicans are only allowed to follow their dreams

  7. Wayne B. 2014.12.09

    You may be right, Owen... maybe it's because Republicans only have practical dreams to follow.

  8. caheidelberger Post author | 2014.12.09

    Wayne B, I don't dispute the value of legal study for policy analysis. The content of an English major—close analysis of literature, composition, rhetoric, etc.—is I'm sure quite useful in law school and in the Governor's office. It would be nice if the Governor would acknowledge the value of such skills in his public pronouncements on higher education.

  9. Owen 2014.12.09

    So Wayne B. If a Republican really wants to take up Philosophy in college that person will say, "No I probably won't make a decent living so I'll got to tech school and take up welding and spend the next 40 years doing something I don't want to."
    And there is absolutely nothing wrong with being a welder-if that's something a person wants to do.

  10. grudznick 2014.12.09

    If a Democrat really wants to take up Welding at Votech and says "no, I'll probably be frowned upon by my libbie friends, so even though it will make it harder to provide for my family and I'll hate it terribly I'm going to go into Philosophy" is it OK?

  11. Owen 2014.12.09

    I didn't say that grud. If you read the rest of my post I said there is nothing wrong with somebody going into welding if that's what they want to do. More power to them and I certainly don't down on them. However our Governor looks down at people that don't go into manufacturing jobs that helps his business buddies. And yes he looks down at teachers as well

  12. bearcreekbat 2014.12.09

    When I attended BHSU they had no philosophy courses. I liked philosophy so I studied on my own and met with others interested in the field at the Catholic Newman Center in the evenings to discuss philosophy.

  13. GoJacksJC 2014.12.09

    Wayne, the issue I have with Dennis Daugaard's dismissal of political and social science degrees is that he asserts that these people will not be able to find jobs. Well, as Cory said, multiple people with such degrees found jobs in his very administration. Moreover, some individuals were able to successfully augment their undergrad. degree(s) to pursue additional education (J.D.'s, Ph.D.'s, etc.). Thus, I argue that said degrees are avenues for employability, if such grads. are given the opportunity to explain the value of liberal arts education.

    You will have to take what I say with a grain of salt though, as my degree is in sociology.

  14. SuperSweet 2014.12.09

    I feel my BA degree has served me well. I gained appreciation for the arts, societal issues, and the humanities, all of which have carry over value to the world of work. And that's no BS.

  15. grudznick 2014.12.09

    Owen, I think we will all soon be beyond looking down people who don't go into manufacturing. Why, you can ask my friend Bill to verify but back when Fred Honkala lived in the big house on Douglas by the College on the Hill everybody lauded people in the liberal arts.

  16. Deb Geelsdottir 2014.12.09

    The people who are most successful/fulfilled/wealthiest say, "Do what you love. Go where your passion leads you."

  17. Deb Geelsdottir 2014.12.09

    I'm talking about Fortune 500 types: BillGates, Warren Buffet, CEOs of Metronic, Cargill, General Mills. Also smaller companies, entrepreneurs. I read the business section of the Minneapolis Strib everyday, and the expert columnists, who are also business people, women and men, say that over and over.

  18. Deb Geelsdottir 2014.12.09

    One more thing. I've never read about one of them saying, "Do it only for the money."

    Daugard is wrong.

  19. Wayne B. 2014.12.09

    Owen: I had my tongue firmly in my cheek.

    Look, I have a liberal arts degree. I have a masters in public administration on top of my political science degree. I do just fine with that liberal arts education.

    But it's not for everyone. Y'all bemoan the governor for reminding people that college isn't for everyone, that technical and vocational schools are worthwhile and will lead to good careers that support families. It's almost as though there's a real disapproval of labor. That's unfortunate.

    Yet all we hear in school is how college is the next step, without any real question for whether that's appropriate for each individual. Our universities take anyone with a pulse because there's no accountability if the student drops out. So we have people floundering about, racking up the student loan debt, without a clue where they want to go or how to actualize their dreams.

    And don't get me started about the crappy job professors do advising young college students.

    Why is it such a blasphemy to suggest not everyone needs to go to college and pursue a degree in art history? Why shouldn't our governor talk about where our workforce shortages are and remind our young South Dakotans where there's a decent job waiting for them?

  20. GoJacksJC 2014.12.10

    There is nothing wrong with having that discussion, Wayne. However, that discussion is not truly occurring between the executive and its constituents. Moreover, I feel it is hypocritical for the Governor to adopt the tone he does given the extent to which he employs people with degrees in fields he disparages. Instead, I would like to see him establish an environment where we all can have a generative dialogue whereby he encourages those of us with liberal arts backgrounds AND those with technical certificates/degrees to critically examine how we all can strive to improve SD's labor market. Instead, he chooses to alienate a considerable number of people with dismissive, glib statements.

  21. caheidelberger Post author | 2014.12.10

    On top of GJJC's argument, I'll add that Governor Daugaard is not saying what WayneB is saying. Wayne says, "College is not for everyone." I agree. Wayne is making a statement of fact. Governor Daugaard says, "Liberal arts education is a bad choice." That is an overbroad value judgment that reaches beyond what Wayne is saying.

  22. Wayne B. 2014.12.10

    And that's why I'll never be Guv'nor.

    See, Owen... practical dreams ;-) (or the squashing of fanciful ones, you take your pick)

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