Critical Thinking and the Liberal Arts

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Keith and Cynthia Loveland

Keith and Cynthia Loveland

Keith Loveland ('71), who grew up in Grand Rapids, Minn, remembers seeing UMD for the first time, on a high school trip with the declamation and debate team. "It was a campus on a hill that was stunningly beautiful," he said. "It had the lake below it and wooded hills behind it. There were new dorms and new buildings." It wasn't long after his first visit that Loveland enrolled and began his lifelong relationship with UMD. 

Loveland started in the pre-law program. He did well in his classes, but simply doing well wasn't enough. "I went home for the summer between my freshman and sophomore year and worked at the Blandin Paper Mill," he said. He discussed current events that summer, especially topics like the war in Southeast Asia and whether 18-year-olds should vote. "I was unable to get my points across to others, and it upset me," he said. "I wanted to learn how to think more clearly and deeply, logically, and rationally." 

That fall, Loveland set up a meeting with his advisor, Harry Lease. That meeting became a turning point in Loveland's life. "I explained to Dr. Lease that something was missing," he said. "I could memorize things in history class and pass the tests but I wanted to know how to think, not what to memorize. Dr. Lease sent me down the hall to the philosophy department." 

Loveland then began studying with Philosophy Department Head Henry Ehlers and Professors David "Doc" Mayo and Robert Evans. "I learned to listen carefully to arguments, paying attention to assumptions embedded within the discourse and then responding clearly and honestly. The philosophy courses were satisfying," he said. "Learning about the world stokes a fire in me." 

Loveland was involved in student government and campus life. "In the 1960s, students were encouraged to think through economic, social, and political issues," he said. Besides the hot topics of the war in Vietnam, and voting issues, students were debating the rights of women and how to assist minorities and disadvantaged people. 

Loveland left UMD to earn a law degree from the William Mitchell College of Law. He has spent his career active in the financial services and securities industry as an attorney, author, and teacher. He chaired an investment committee for a mutual fund complex and served as the CEO of a securities broker-dealer. He married Cynthia Stevens, who has spent much of her time working on social justice causes. 

"At many points in your life you find yourself stopping to reflect: when you have a milestone birthday, when you graduate from college, at the birth of a child," he said. "It is a time to take stock and think about what you want to do. Recently Cynthia and I decided to change our estate plans. What loomed most significant to us was the importance of a liberal arts education. It shapes a person's life and gives them happiness and success. It's important that the nation has an educated citizenry to think critically and contribute to a democracy." The Lovelands chose the UMD philosophy department to receive a planned gift. "The UMD philosophy department is near and dear to us," Loveland said. "It is where we want to leave our legacy."