Degrees, Majors & Programs


The Hutchins Program: A Brief History

Sonoma State University was founded in the spring of 1961 in Rohnert Park, California. Dr. Warren Olson was hired in 1962 as its first professor of philosophy and humanities.

On January 5, 1968, Sonoma State began a two-year trial called the "Tutorials in Liberal Arts and Science Program." However, Dr. Olson suggested the name be changed to the "Robert Maynard Hutchins School of Liberal Studies." Olson explained that as the former dean of Yale University and president of the University of Chicago, Robert Maynard Hutchins had been devoted to educational innovation and to the idea that American democracy could not be realized unless the country's citizens were liberally educated. Upon an affirmative reply from Robert Hutchins himself to Warren Olson's request, the program was christened as the Robert Hutchins School of Liberal Studies.

The Hutchins School of Liberal Studies has gone through many incarnations in its forty year history, but still holds fast to Robert Hutchins' key principle: "The University is a community of scholars that has as its primary purpose to unsettle the minds of students, to widen their horizons, to inflame their intellect."

Robert Maynard Hutchins, 1899-1977
"Education is a kind of continuing dialogue, and a dialogue assumes different points of view."
Photo by Myron Davis