LITTLE ROCK, Ark. — A former Miss America says that while an Arkansas politician is criticizing a public university that put up a billboard touting its dance program, society needs both entertainers and engineers to move forward.

Savvy Shields, who danced to jazz music on her way to the 2017 Miss America title, disagreed with Sen. Bart Hester on Twitter this week after he questioned whether the University of Arkansas at Little Rock had misplaced its priorities.

“Why higher ed does NOT need increase funding,” Hester tweeted Monday. “They lease a sign to encourage computer science degrees or math teachers? No they push for dance majors. Lots of hardworking Arkansans subsidizing this! Not OK (at)UALR.”

Shields wondered why the state had to choose. “In the Renaissance, we had the growth of both the sciences and the arts,” she said in an interview Thursday.

Hester, a Republican from Cave Springs, said arts programs are important but shouldn’t deter from developing highly skilled professionals.

“We are starving for an educated workforce,” Hester said. “A state school should be supporting the needs of the state on a priority basis.”

College advertising sprouts every midwinter, as schools hope to attract high school seniors. UALR’s series of billboards include one showing a dancer and the words “Dance Major.”