Dedication to the Humanities: Revisiting Laura Huerta Migus’s Colloquium Address

This post was written by Abigail Beus, an undergraduate student.


February 1st marked a notable occasion on BYU’s campus with the esteemed presence of Laura Huerta Migus, Deputy Director of the Office of Museum Services. As introduced by her childhood friend Professor Brian Price (Spanish and Portuguese), we learned of Migus’s devotion to the growth and success of museums and archives in the United States as well as her important work in advocating for increased bilingual access within such institutions.

Following this compelling introduction, Migus began her impassioned address which emphasized the pivotal role of the humanities in shaping American society. She underscored that the humanities foster empathy and tie together the diverse experience of what it means to be an American citizen. Migus eloquently stated that, as such, the humanities permeate every aspect of society and “create knowledge through people, policy, and understanding.” Without them, she warned, the nuances crucial for informed policymaking risk being overlooked, leading to potentially harmful outcomes.

Migus further asserted that part of the reason we are seeing such a sharp decline in civic participation is directly correlated to the decrease in scholarly and classroom funding for the liberal arts. She advocated for making programs and products more accessible, valuable, and visible. Migus emphasized the importance of organizations like the Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS), with which she is affiliated, by highlighting a striking statistic: there are more than three times as many museums as McDonald’s franchises, yet the latter is far more conspicuous. Through supporting educational initiatives at both the national and local levels, IMLS aims to integrate museums and libraries more fully with the community, thus making them more visible than even the iconic and hunger-inducing golden arches. Migus argued that such support will strengthen the “thinking infrastructure” essential for navigating the challenging times ahead.

Concluding her address, Migus highlighted the practical benefits of studying the humanities, citing their role in nurturing critical life skills such as research, persistence, and analysis—all of which are in high demand in the private business sector. She commended BYU’s unique employment opportunities, including the archival center at the library with which she was especially impressed. Finally, encouraging patience and persistence, Migus shared insights from her own impressive and illustrious career journey, emphasizing the profound impact of small actions. She proudly claimed that her most “punk rock move” was changing a few words in a document which made it easier for worthwhile institutions and people to apply for funding. Yet because of this simple edit, the money can now be used for the best possible purpose.

In her parting words, Migus encouraged the crowded conference room of her eager audience, by reminding them that “every person can do something, no person can do everything.” Her remarks echoed the overarching themes of her message: unity and thoughtfulness catalyzed by dedication to and study of the humanities.

Popular Articles...