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Ampersand / Ampersand - Past Issues / Ampersand - Spring 2017 / Reinventing the Bluegrass Special

Reinventing the Bluegrass Special

A new major was added to the College of Arts & Sciences during the fall 2016 semester—the Bachelor of Liberal Studies. The major addresses the breadth and value of various forms of knowledge in a changing world and is structured to allow students to design individualized programs of study to include humanities, social sciences, and natural and mathematical sciences. Similar to the Bachelor of General Studies, informally referred to as the “Bluegrass Special” by students in the ’70s, the Bachelor of Liberal Studies program is an individualized, nontraditional program designed to provide broader freedom of course choices than is available in traditional majors.
We caught up with A&S alumni to hear how their Bachelor of General Studies degree helped them succeed after graduation.


The degree enabled me to receive a very well-rounded education from a wide variety of interesting professors. I was an Army ROTC student and even though I was not planning on a military career when I graduated, the subjects I took, particularly the humanities, gave me an excellent foundation for leading and working with people as an Army officer. It served me well during my military career and has served me equally well as an HR professional.


—Anthony W. Wright ’78

Chief Human Resources Officer at
Columbia County, GA, Board of Education


I have always been interested in different academic subjects and during my undergraduate years looked forward to choosing from among the classes offered. When the general studies major became available, it allowed me to broaden my education and pursue my varied interests. My concentrations were in sociology, psychology and telecommunications. At the time, I had no idea that my journey would lead me to law school and a career as a trial judge, but I believe my undergraduate choices prepared me well. A liberal arts education may be the best preparation for your life’s work, as it allows you to hone your skills, to develop a questioning mind, to begin to understand the world around you and to find yourself.

—The Honorable Sheila R. Isaac ’74 & JD ’77

Judge, Fayette Circuit Court; Executive Director, KY Bar Association


I was a performance piano major my freshman year, which I greatly loved. I felt myself, though, gravitating towards journalism for a career. The Watergate scandal hit when I was a freshman at UK, and I would stop and watch the Watergate hearings in the student center on my way to and from classes. I was fascinated by the unfolding story. Later, with the help of my advisor, I decided what I really wanted was a Bachelor of General Studies (we called it the Bluegrass Special). It gave me more flexibility in choosing my classes. I was able to take all the journalism and communication classes I needed, plus other classes that I wanted, but would not have been able to take. It was perfect for me. I really came to appreciate my studies in a broad range of topics. As a general assignment reporter, I never knew where the news of the day might take me, and what the topic of my story or interview would be. While nobody can be an expert on every subject, it helped me to have a broad, general education so that I could know what to ask. I always believed my general studies degree from UK gave me a little extra flexibility with my career path.


—Barbara Bailey Cowden ’77

News anchor at WKYT-TV, Lexington, KY


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