College of Arts and Sciences

Gary L. Malecha, Ph.D., acting dean

Lawrence S. Larsen, M.F.A., academic associate dean

Laura A. McLary, Ph.D., academic associate dean

Edward J. Valente, Ph.D., academic associate dean

Elise M. Moentmann, Ph.D., associate dean for students


The College of Arts and Sciences (CAS) provides the “Core” education in the liberal arts for all students at the University of Portland and offers bachelor of arts degrees or bachelor of science degrees in 26 majors and 20 minors through 14 departments. Besides its responsibility for the core program, the College of Arts and Sciences supports the professional schools through courses in mathematics, physics, biology, communication studies, English, and other disciplines. Graduate programs are offered in communication studies, drama, and theology.

Some students within the College or in the professional schools choose to enrich their educations or to prepare for their chosen careers by obtaining a double major or minor: for example in nursing or engineering and Spanish, biology and chemistry, business and organizational communication. Over 50 percent of students in the College study abroad, and many participate in faculty-sponsored research projects, internships, or service learning.

Faculty in the College are reflective teachers, who continually seek for ways to improve their teaching while maintaining an active agenda of research and scholarship. Each faculty member advises students, serving as a mentor and model for the student’s progress in study and preparation for a life of service and leadership. Advisors in pre-law and pre-med assist students who are preparing for careers in those professions.

The College is home to mission-centric programs in Catholic studies, social justice, and environmental science, and to departments of philosophy and theology, which promote ethical reflection and the integration of faith and reason. The College supports the Learning Resource Center for English, mathematics, international languages, speech, and group process, and encourages student involvement through clubs sponsored by each department and through the College’s Student Advisory Council. Each year the English department sponsors the Northwest Undergraduate Conference in Literature (NUCL) and the history department publishes its award winning journal, Northwest Passages.

All students at the University of Portland are welcome to audition for plays, to sing in the chorale, or to play in musical ensembles. All are invited to join the prize-winning debate team or to compete in Mock Trial.

Three programs in the College are externally evaluated: music (NASM), drama (NAST), and social work. The other programs conduct program reviews every five years in addition to yearly self-assessment. The College as a whole is assessed by the Northwest Association of Colleges and Universities as part of the University of Portland’s periodic assessment.


The College of Arts and Sciences serves the academic mission of the University of Portland by providing the University's core curriculum and by offering excellent undergraduate majors and minors in 14 departments and in select graduate programs. At the heart of a Catholic university, guided by the Congregation of Holy Cross, the College's faculty are committed to the model of reflective teaching and scholarship that promotes excellence in teaching and learning, value-centered instruction, and personal advising and attention to the student. The aim is to educate the whole person: head and hands, intellect and skills, faith and values, ethics, and a capacity for service and leadership. 

Students of the College of Arts and Sciences are a community of learners, who are engaged in active learning both inside and outside the classroom, faculty-guided student research, international study, and interdisciplinary inquiry. They learn to pursue high standards of academic and professional excellence, while preparing for a variety of careers or advanced study and becoming lifelong learners who are also caring and responsible community leaders.

As a careful steward, the College engages in ongoing planning, which includes regular assessment of its programs, fundraising to support its faculty, students, and programs, and communication with local, regional, and national communities.

College Requirements

The undergraduate programs are designed to build on the University’s core curriculum to educate students so that they will make contributions to the world guided by concerns for issues of justice and ethical behavior. In addition to the University core, the college requires courses in communication and metaphysics.

College Learning Objectives and Outcomes

In addition to the outcomes for their degrees and their majors, graduates of the College of Arts and Sciences will be able to:

  1. Communicate effectively;
  2. Understand how problems in metaphysics are related to problems in other academic disciplines or to problems in every day life.

Effective Communication

The CAS core communication requirement helps students learn to explain and, in some courses practice aloud, how people use communication to exert influence, acquire knowledge, create identities, and foster relationships through written or oral communication.

Learning Outcomes for Effective Communication

Students taking CST 107, ENG 107, or ENG 311 for the Effective Communication requirement will be able to:

  1. Understand the nature of a particular communication mode.
    1. Comprehend the elements of a particular communication mode.
    2. Comprehend the rules and norms associated with skilled practice of a particular communication mode.
    3. Comprehend that skilled communication in a particular mode involves multiple stages.
  2. Improve their ability to achieve goals using a particular communication mode.
    1. Demonstrate ability to adapt communication (i.e., content, organization, language, style) to audiences.
    2. Demonstrate ability to accomplish goals using a particular communication mode.


    Metaphysics is the study of the most basic and general features of reality and our conceptions of them. In the courses that fulfill the metaphysics requirement, PHL 331-339, students critically examine the ideas and traditions of western civilization, further preparing students to critically and thoughtfully engage the core questions: Who am I? Who am I becoming? Why am I here? Who or what is God? How can one relate to God? Among the topics studied in the various courses that fulfill the metaphysics requirement are:

    • The nature and existence of God
    • Free will and determinism
    • The nature of Being
    • Personal identity over time
    • The mind/body problem
    • The immortality of the soul

    Additionally, by investigating implicit assumptions and implications of the other disciplines, the metaphysics requirement enables students to better grasp the nature and value of those studies. The metaphysics requirement will allow students to acquire the skills to engage in in-depth analysis of basic concepts of reality fundamental to understanding issues in other disciplines, thereby preparing them for a life of thoughtful reflection. For example, metaphysics complements and deepens students’ studies in theology through its investigation of ontological questions. While only one metaphysics course is required, students are encouraged to take more than one so that they have the opportunity for in-depth investigation of additional basic concepts of reality.

    Learning Outcomes for Metaphysics Courses:

    In addition to learning objectives specific to the individual courses that fulfill the metaphysics requirement, all metaphysics courses will enable students to:

    1. Engage with problems in metaphysics that are related to problems in other academic disciplines or to problems in everyday life;
    2. Read original texts on metaphysical problems in a competent manner;
    3. Comprehend major figures and issues relevant to a particular area of metaphysics;
    4. Write essays that display critical awareness of issues in metaphysics.