Our Master of Liberal Studies (MLS) program touts an amazing journey of discovery to new worlds, so it makes sense that the program is led by Dr. John Freeman, a man with his own stellar past. Dr. Freeman, professor emeritus and research professor in physics and astronomy, has taught at Rice for more than 35 years and has been with the MLS program since its inception eight years ago. Prior to Rice, however, Dr. Freeman was in another world quite literally as a staff scientist at NASA Headquarters in Washington, D.C., where he was awarded the NASA Medal for Exceptional Scientific Achievement for his lunar experiment deployed by the Apollo astronauts. Back down on Earth, his work with the MLS program has not gone unnoticed, and he now resides on the board of the Association of Graduate Liberal Studies Programs (AGLSP). Dr. Freeman, director of the MLS program, shares a closer look at the first graduate degree that the Glasscock School developed.
How long have you been at GSCS, and what drew you to the school to begin with?
I have been at GSCS and with the MLS program since 2005. I was a member of the faculty committee that was formed to draw up plans for the Master of Liberal Studies program. When the program began, I was invited to join first as student advisor and then as director.
How has your program area changed over time?
The MLS program has grown from a founder’s class of 30 to 70 students at the present time. We have graduated 71 students with the Master of Liberal Studies degree over a period of eight years. We have spun off a writers workshop group called the MLS Writers and we have an alumni support group, the MLS Alumni. We have become full members of the Association of Graduate Liberal Studies Programs and have conducted a successful five-year review including an external review with a site visit conducted by the AGLSP. We have developed an outstanding faculty whose average course evaluations exceed those of the rest of the University graduate faculty. In summary, we have developed an outstanding graduate program in the Liberal Arts serving Houston-area adults.
What is your fondest memory working here thus far?
There are many, mostly related to the successes of our students who have attested to the MLS program as a “life-changing” experience. Perhaps the fondest was standing with Peggy Roe as she received the AGLSP Award for Creative Nonfiction at the 2012 AGLSP Annual Conference in Portland, Oregon.
What do you enjoy the most about GSCS?
What I enjoy most about GSCS and the MLS program is the people. It is a joy to work with such wonderful and dedicated professional administrators and enthusiastic students.
Visit mls.rice.edu to learn more about our Master of Liberal Studies program and to begin your own discovery of new worlds.