Stanley Brand ’70, member of the Board of Trustees, a successful lawyer, and vice president of Minor League Baseball, visited the College Wednesday to share his opinions on how the education he received at F&M prepared him for life after college in the professional world.
Brand majored in English and earned Departmental Honors for his independent study on “The Anatomy of Melancholy: A Mean in All Things.” As a thousand-page book, The Anatomy required extensive commitment and dissection.
After graduating from F&M, Brand went on to receive his J.D. from Georgetown University Law School. From 1976-1983 he was General Counsel to the U.S. House of Representatives under Speaker Thomas P. “Tip” O’Neill. He then founded a private practice in 1984 and currently teaches law at Pennsylvania State University. Additionally, Brand has also served as vice president of Minor League Baseball since 1992 and was counsel to Minor League Baseball in the congressional steroid hearings in 2005.
Many question how an English major gained the foundation for law school or for Minor League Baseball. According to Brand, majoring in English taught him how to extract meaning from rich and layered text, such as The Anatomy. As a lawyer, Brand must unpack complex and often dense topics, such as collateralized debt obligations, and have an adequate understanding of the material in order to explain it to a judge and jury in simpler terms.
“These experiences also gave me the courage and ability to think beyond the confines of conventional wisdom, to test my limits in an unfamiliar setting and to espouse new ideas not heard ever before,” Brand said about becoming vice president of Minor League Baseball.
As a humanities subject, English altered his way of seeing and thinking about the world, just as law would one day do. However, Brand is not arguing the best way to become a successful lawyer is to major in English.
“I am sure there are other majors as well that provide a suitable foundation for the law, whether that be math because of its inductive-deductive basis or anthropology with its grounding in human development,” Brand said. “The broader point is that it is the process of developing a mind that can absorb, probe, and connect.”
Therefore, Brand argues it is not simply English, but rather a quality liberal arts education that is the best preparation for life after college. A liberal arts education allows students the freedom to explore and discover what they like and don’t like, as well as what they are good at and what they are not so good at.
Before opening up for questions, Brand ended his speech in the same manner he likes to end each of his law classes at Penn State: with a pep talk.
“As you toil in the vast intellectual vineyards provided by F&M’s liberal arts curriculum, don’t despair that it will not prepare you for a career in a complex world,” Brand said. “I assure you there will come a moment in the not too distant future when the disparate strands of your work will come together and you’ll see, as I have, exactly how your education has prepared you uniquely for the professions and pursuits you undertake. It may not come in the fifth year, or the 10th year, or even the 15th year, but eventually it will come as it did to me.”
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