News

Published:

September 6, 2006
 
Tagged: President Emeritus

State of the University 2006

News, Speeches and Correspondence



By Robert A. Scott, President, Adelphi University


Introduction

Good afternoon and welcome. Before I begin my remarks, let us pay homage to Professor Donald Kelly, who died June 1st after serving as librarian and faculty member for 53 years – almost certainly the longest tenure of any employee in Adelphi history. A true intellectual and a consummate book man, Professor Kelly was largely responsible for today’s excellent retrospective collections on which we rely. Let us stand for a moment of silence in honor of Professor Kelly and all members of the Adelphi family who died during the past year.

Today, we also celebrate the contributions of two long-serving members of the Adelphi family:

• Alice Brown, who is retiring this fall after directing the Child Activity Center since 1983. The new Center, which will be constructed as one of the projects underway, will open in 2008 as the Alice Brown Early Learning Center.
• Chemistry Professor Sung Moon, who will retire this fall after 44 years of service. Professor Moon joined the faculty in 1962 and has witnessed and contributed to Adelphi during 40% of its history, and still does.

Thank you Alice and Sung. We will give further tribute to Alice and Sung at the reception scheduled for 4:00 p.m. today.

With us today is alumna Adele Klapper ’92, M.A. ’99, who was awarded the President’s Medal of Merit last September, who loaned us important works from her magnificent collection to celebrate the opening of the new Fine Arts Building, and who, along with alumnus John Phelan, B.B.A. ’70, H.D. ’87, is Honorary Co-Chair of the “Campaign for Adelphi.” This campaign, still in its “quiet” phase, has raised over $25 million in gifts and pledges, and includes eight alumni and friends who each have committed $1 million or more.

Adelphi is a private university, but we hold a public charter and are pledged to serve the public good. We describe Adelphi as the “engaged” University. This vision captures an essential truth about Adelphi as a corporate entity and as an academic community. We are engaged in the public arena as scholars and volunteers, and we invite the broader public to join with us in educational and cultural activities.

We do this because it is our mission and responsibility. We receive public support through tax status, state and federal student financial aid programs, discretionary grants for community service projects, and eligibility for state capital matching funds. To acknowledge these privileges and responsibilities, and to honor the bond between us, we will bestow the President’s Medal of Merit on State Senator Dean Skelos, Deputy Majority Leader of the Senate, and State Senator (and alumnus) Ken LaValle ’61, Chair of the New York State Senate Committee on Higher Education. We will honor Senator Skelos now and Senator LaValle later today. The remainder of our Nassau County delegation, Senators Hannon, Balboni, Fuschillo, and Marcellino, will be honored on other occasions for their work.

Last year, in anticipation of the new Fine Arts Building, I focused my State of the University remarks on Adelphi’s historic commitment to the fine arts and art history. This year, in recognition of the generous commitment of alumna and trustee Carol Ammon, M.B.A. ’79 in honor of her mother, Ruth ’42, also an alumna, and for whom the Board of Trustees has named the School of Education and in whose name we are now searching for a scholar to hold the first fully endowed professorship, I wish to focus on Adelphi’s role in preparing teachers. On October 16th, we will hold a major symposium on schools, teachers, and teaching, in honor of the gifts, and will feature Education Commissioner Richard Mills, New York State Regent Roger Tilles, Newsday editorial writer Larry Levy, nationally known scholar Marilyn Cochran-Smith of Boston College, Superintendent Constance Clark of Westbury Schools, and alumna Marguerite Izzo, M.S. ’84, New York State Teacher of the Year.

This fall, we will be visited by NCATE, the national accrediting body for schools of education. I want publicly and loudly to thank Dean Ronald Feingold, Associate Dean Perry Greene, and the School of Education faculty for the enormous effort they have committed to achieving the landmark status NCATE can bestow.

Adelphi and Teacher Preparation

It is 110 years since the founding of Adelphi College, and 143 years since the name Adelphi was first connected to education in New York. Perhaps no one alive has a better grasp of this history than Professor Eugene Neely, University Archivist, who has been so helpful to me in preparing this speech as he has others.

In 2003, Gene wrote in his column in the Adelphi University Magazine:

From its historical roots as the Academy in Brooklyn, Adelphi has had a long tradition of commitment to – and connection with – the community. Aside from the school’s general educational mission and its impressive schedule of public lectures by notable personalities of the time (as early as the 1870’s), Adelphi’s first public service to the community was undoubtedly its kindergarten programs. In 1889, the Adelphi Academy took over from the Pratt Institute a small kindergarten of only five children, which had been founded in 1884 and is considered to have been the first kindergarten in Brooklyn. In 1893, in order to train young women to become kindergarten teachers, a two-year “Normal Course for Kindergartners” (or “Kindergarten Training Class,” as it was more often called) was established. In 1895, Miss (Anna) Harvey (after whom Harvey Hall is named), who had joined the Adelphi Academy faculty in 1893 as the assistant to the kindergarten instructor and instructor in the kindergarten training class, was named as director, and the program graduated its first class with nine graduates. In 1912, she was appointed dean of Adelphi College, a position that she held until her retirement in 1935.1

By 1911, nearly two-thirds of Adelphi graduates were teachers in New York City schools, including high schools and training schools, with others serving as principals, vice principals, and college faculty.2

At a time when a high school teacher was required to hold a bachelor’s degree, Adelphi was the only baccalaureate degree-granting institution in Brooklyn, a point of pride with Charles Levermore, Adelphi Academy Principal and Adelphi College’s first President. He held both posts simultaneously for nearly 15 years. Levermore and the founders advocated opportunities for women. In fact, at the laying of the cornerstone for a new building in 1867, a project whose financing was undertaken by a committee of leading citizens including Charles Pratt, Horace Greeley, and Henry Ward Beecher, Beecher said,

It seems that no man can give a reason why a woman should not be educated as well as, and in the same respect which, a man is educated.3

Coeducation flourished at the Academy and then the College, which became all female in 1912 due to a lack of space – although young men could still enroll in certain programs.

By 1914, almost 1800 teachers in New York and surrounding areas received training from Adelphi, including 13 principals, 400 elementary school teachers, and 300 kindergarten teachers. Today, the School of Education accounts for nearly 20% of our 8000 students, and it is estimated that Adelphi graduates teach about 100,000 students a day in New York schools.

Charles Levermore, as both Principal of the Academy and President of the College, was not only a strong advocate for the training of teachers, but also for physical culture, fitness, and health, as well as for history, languages, arts, and science.5 In 1885, the Director of Physical Education at Adelphi convened a meeting of leaders to promote an American system of Physical Education. The American Association for the Advancement of Physical Education was formed. One hundred years later, our own Ron Feingold, now Dean, convened an assembly of experts to expand the mission of the organization and in 2000 became the national president of a group whose origins were begun by his Adelphi predecessors. Today, it is not unusual to hear school superintendents say they want only Adelphi graduates as their Physical Education and Health Studies teachers because of the breadth and depth of their education and training.

This is an impressive legacy, and a worthy role. If teaching is the most noble profession, then surely those who prepare teachers occupy a high pedestal. Yet we hear and read of serious concerns about schools and the preparation of teachers. Within the past few weeks, The New York Times’ lead editorial stated, “Four years after enactment of ‘No Child Left Behind’ legislation, the national teacher corps is still in shambles. Until Congress changes that, everything else will amount to little more than tinkering at the margins.”6

A recent report by the College Board, “Teachers and the Uncertain American Future,” asserts:

A problem of epic proportions looms on the horizon. It has yet to register fully with the nation. Amazingly, 46 percent of new teachers who enter elementary and secondary schools will leave the classroom within five years. Nearly half of the current teachers have already served for 20 years or more and may be looking at retirement. Where will we find replacements? How will we pay for them? What does the future for the teaching profession look like?7

The data reported are shocking even as we recognize them.

  • In a nation employing approximately 2.9 million teachers, school districts nationally will have to hire 2 million new teachers in the next decade to account for enrollment increases, and for teacher retirement, turnover, and career change…
  • Elementary and secondary school teaching is one of the nation’s lowest paid, entry-level professions. Although job security and benefits are attractive, teachers with 5 or even 10 years of experience can still find themselves earning less than their classmates’ salaries right out of college.
  • Whereas some cultures treat teachers with respect accorded local religious and learned leaders, teaching in America does not enjoy the status to which it is entitled.
  • In the nation’s middle schools, more than 20 percent of mathematics teachers and more than 40 percent of physical science teachers are teaching “out of field,” a euphemism to describe those without the qualifications they need… 8

The philosopher Alfred North Whitehead summarized the importance of teaching and
learning to a civilized society: “In the conditions of modern life the rule is absolute, the (nation)
which does not value trained intelligence is doomed.”9

Adelphi Today

What is Adelphi’s role in this crisis? It is in our mission and heritage to address it. Does this represent a new concern in Adelphi’s history? I think not, if we listen to Levermore speaking almost 100 years ago.

We teachers are all well aware of the defects of the school system to which we belong…Nevertheless in view of the criticisms that I may repeat I want to say now that I am an optimist about our schools and teachers…

Teachers tell us that present conditions in schools render thoroughness impossible. They are variously overworked and underpaid. They are obliged to teach such large classes in such short periods that individual instruction is beyond hope, and the daily routine can be little more than a mechanical grind. The compulsion of a uniform examination system crushes the possibility of originality and individual initiative, alike in teacher and student.10

Levermore listened to teachers and so do we. And despite the apparent lack of progress since his assessment, we too are optimists. We are optimistic because we learn from teachers, principals, and superintendents, our students in the schools, and recent graduates who are teaching. We ask what they need for success, what we do well, and what we can do better. We learn from our pilot partner schools and principals, and from the impressive array of educators on our Ammon School Advisory Board. To do so, we follow this storied advice:

We must be silent before we can listen.
We must listen before we can learn.
We must learn before we can prepare.
We must prepare before we can serve.
We must serve before we can lead.11

What lessons might we learn from studying the history of teacher education at Adelphi? What does this history illuminate about the institution’s history and prospects?

One lesson is immediately apparent: the need for accountability and assessment. Levermore talked about the new College Entrance Examination Board to which Adelphi belonged along with other institutions to encourage common standards in high schools. He and his colleagues sought to improve the education and training of women for the profession of teaching, and to report on their progress.

Today, we seek NCATE accreditation in Education and AACSB accreditation in Business, just as we have all appropriate accreditations in Communication Sciences, Nursing, Psychology, and Social Work, and are developing plans for others such as Chemistry. For the College and the University as a whole, we have, and soon will seek renewed, accreditation by the Middle States Association of Schools and Colleges. In each case, the accrediting body requires evidence that we are doing what we say we are doing, that our students are learning what we say they should learn – in General Education, the major, and electives. Adelphi must demonstrate that our students improve in writing, critical thinking, and quantitative skills. We need to show that our students study other cultures and languages, develop in their aesthetic and cultural interests, become more active and informed as citizens, and advance in moral reasoning.

Evaluators want to know that we assess the effectiveness of the methods we use in teaching, that we pay attention to how we teach as well as to what we teach. They want to know our measures of assessment, including student course evaluations, and to see the trendlines we report.

We know that not everything of value can be counted. We use judgment as well as other forms of assessment. This is the difference between being accountable and accounting, a much more limited function. It seems to me that too many in higher education and government these days confuse the two and miss the meaning of each.12

Another lesson learned is the value of partnerships. Between 1939 and 1951, Adelphi College partnered with the Mills School of New York City for students to earn the B.S. degree in Education from Adelphi and “a diploma from the Mills School entitling them to state licenses to teach nursery, kindergarten, and primary grades.”13 The College had similar cooperative relationships with two other Manhattan – based institutions.14

We can view our current cooperative Ph.D. in Audiology with St. John’s and Hofstra Universities, as well as our initiatives with McGraw Hill and the Huntington Township Chamber of Commerce, as comparable initiatives.

Still another lesson to be reminded of is the value of innovation. The early Adelphi pioneered in physical fitness and gender equity, connecting the academy with the neighborhood. In recent decades, we can cite ANTEP (the Adelphi New Teacher Education Program, which omitted the word “New” after twelve years), a program that included an orientation period at a farm and required study in another country.

In the 1970’s we created the Adult Baccalaureate Learning Experience (ABLE) which now is being reinvigorated as the central program of a reinvented University College. Social Work created the ANSWER Program as another effort to open opportunities to new populations in innovative ways.

Perhaps the initiative that received the most recognition was the MBA on the Long Island Rail Road. Hundreds of commuters earned their degrees this way, some even taking the train east so they could start their trip to Manhattan at the beginning of class. I have met prominent leaders in the community who remember with fondness their classes on the rail lines and their innovative professor, the late Greg Gutman.

Innovations help address needs in new ways. They help overcome barriers to learning, and they create the foundation for newer innovations. Just as the commuter car became a new classroom, so computers and telephony have allowed us to create new venues as well as new pedagogies for learning. Now, we must find ways to incorporate new digital technologies, including audio, video, podcasting, and avatars, into our professional development schedules and curricula. We need to be prepared for how new students learn — think of our children and grandchildren, and prepare our graduates for the digital methodologies they will find in their places of work, whether in banks, consumer product companies, or schools, in this country or another.

This mandate requires us to be open to innovation, whether it is inspired internally or imposed externally. We must not resist the world so much that we relinquish our ability to influence it.

Another lesson to be learned relates to the University’s role in helping schools prepare students to become citizens, and the role of higher education in advancing citizenship. Now, by citizenship, I do not mean “jingoism.” I mean active, thinking citizenship, which includes participation in debating issues, whether by letter to the editor or active protests, and voting. As of 2005, all educational institutions receiving federal aid must devote September 17th, or a weekday before or after it, to the Constitution. What better way to do this than to live the values it asserts?

This certainly seems to be what Adelphi’s founders had in mind when they advocated for the advancement of women, the abolition of slavery, and improved instruments of world peace. Levermore was a classmate and friend of Woodrow Wilson, and assisted his friend in advancing the League of Nations and then, in 1924, out of 22,000 submissions, his own won the Bok Peace Prize “for the best practical plan by which the United States may co-operate with other nations to achieve and preserve the peace of the world.”

An issue raised today regards the independence of institutions and the politics of faculty. I believe most faculty respect students and their own calling sufficiently to resist advocating a particular ideology, and those that do, as identified in the media, are aberrations. However, I do think institutions should teach the Constitution, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, and the tenets of international law, and that such actions are appropriate but not always impartial. So, there is a rub. We must at times eschew impartiality without abandoning our privileged status, which permits us to serve as curator, creator, and critic, by taking political stands. After all, teaching the Constitution is not an impartial act; teaching the Universal Declaration of Human Rights is not an impartial act; teaching social justice and civic engagement is not an impartial act. As a writer to The New York Times Magazine said, “the truths proclaimed to be self-evident in the United States Declaration of Independence have to do with the essential nature of persons, not the conditions or times in which they live.”15 These rights are “inalienable,” and to exercise them is not tyranny.

We should note that NCATE Standards require that we prepare teachers to understand these essential elements of a democracy. So again, today’s expectations are linked in new ways to the ideals of Adelphi’s founders.

This summer, I was part of a group representing North American higher education at the Council of Europe Headquarters in Strasbourg, France, to debate these issues. The proclamation on “The Responsibility of Higher Education for a Democratic Culture: Citizenship, Human Rights and Sustainability” may be found at dc.ecml.at.

Levermore spoke often about the education needs of Brooklyn in relation to Long Island, and lamented the day when Brooklyn became a borough. He was a regional thinker, and so are we. Vital Signs, the Adelphi-New York State Breast Cancer Hotline and Support Services, the Sports Leadership Institute, the Center for Excellence in Non-Profit Leadership, our activities with the Regional Plan Association and co-sponsorship of the Mayors and Supervisors Institute, our discussions with the Greentree Foundation about a center for Peace Education, our conversations with legislators about a center for regional policy analysis, our forward thinking on the emergency management program, our decreasing reliance on fossil fuels by employing a geo-thermal heating system, our discussions on and off-campus about new programming in public health and law and psychiatry, all underscore our activities and leadership in the region as an institution and as a community of individuals.

It is jarring, then, when considering this list of activities as well as the inspiring lectures this past spring by Dr. Gordon Davies about the university in the 21st century, and the work of students and faculty in our academic units as professionals and volunteers, to read that the Secretary of Education’s Commission on the Future of Higher Education considers colleges and universities to be inward looking, self-satisfied, and risk adverse. That is not the campus Dr. Davies found, or the one you and I know.

Indeed, our activities are not only outwardly oriented, they overtly seek to challenge the status quo and the provincial origins of students. Some have already been mentioned. Others include our major effort to provide internships and other field experiences for students, programs such as those exploring the relationships between businesses and the Holocaust, the lectures several times a semester by U.N. diplomats, scholarships to encourage study abroad, International Week scheduled for early October, the opportunities we offer because of our affiliations with the United Nations as a Non-Governmental Organization (NGO) and the Council on Foreign Relations’ academic affiliation program, among others.

The designer Josef Frank said, “The world is a book and he who stays at home reads only one page.”16 Our goal is to challenge our students to be literate and assist them in reading more pages.

A final lesson to be cited, though many more can be found, is in Levermore’s admiration for the faculty he hired and the students they recruited. The faculty is the heart of a university and students its soul. We rejoice in our faculty, which, as The Fiske Guide says, “are commended for their accessibility and knowledge … (They) are excellent … they know their material … (and are) always available during office hours.”17

My goal is to continue to foster faculty development, continue to improve conditions for teaching and creative activity, and continue to work with Senate leadership to strengthen faculty governance.

As for our students, you know them well. In class, in the lab, in meetings, on the court and on the field, Adelphi students flourish in academic honors, graduate school admissions, jobs, and representing the University, whether in dance, drama, undergraduate research, or sports – – with the Women’s Lacrosse Team winning two National Championships in three years and the entire athletic program winning Conference honors consistently. This, too, is a heritage to foster and of which to be proud.

Now, we launch the Levermore Global Scholars Program for students interested in exploring the world, both nearby and far away, and continue for a second year the “Let’s Go” program, which pairs individual faculty with small groups of students interested in exploring New York to the east and to the west.

Adelphi Tomorrow

This Adelphi we are building is based on legend – the stories of giants like Charles Levermore, Paul Dawson Eddy, and Ruth S. Harley – not just history; imagination, not just reality; passion – a passion for teaching and learning – not just ambition. Such an institution is built on trust, a sense of mutual confidence and understanding, and loyalty. The donation of all remaining funds to the University by the Committee to Save Adelphi is a mark of trust – and is gratefully acknowledged again.

Trust is easy to lose and difficult to gain. Our work with alumni underscores this fact. But “difficult” is not “impossible,” and we are making progress. I was reminded of these relationships – faculty and administration, alumni and alma mater, the university and the public that sustains it, each of us with our institutional past – when I read Marilynne Robinson’s novel Gilead this summer. In it, the main character says,

We see and see but do not perceive, hear and hear but do not understand … You can know a thing to death and be for all purposes completely ignorant of it. A man can know his father, or his son, and there might still be nothing between them but loyalty and love and mutual incomprehension.18

I pledge to work toward “mutual comprehension,” but that will require your help as well as my effort. We have various ways to communicate, to see and hear each other, and we should use all at our disposal.

An important topic of such communication is the goals we pursue as an institution. As you know, we continue to pursue excellence in all that we do in terms of teaching, creative activity, and community service. While program and regional accreditation, arboretum and museum status, and Fiske Guide and New York Times articles are affirmations of the quality of what we do, equally important is the satisfaction of our students and the joy we feel in our work.

The second goal I would emphasize is “enrollment by design,” and the need we have for help from each department and every person, whether it is to cap the enrollment of undergraduate Nursing students, to increase the number of graduate students in Education and Environmental Science, or to launch the new Master’s degree in Physics. Enrollment is everyone’s job, because everyone is the University to someone else.

The third goal is to re-engage alumni in the life of their University, not only in terms of annual giving and capital gifts, essential as they are, but also by helping in admissions; making introductions to those who can assist the University in a myriad of ways; providing internships, jobs and career advice to students; speaking with student clubs and groups; sharing stories of one’s life and career as part of the new “Profiles in Success” on the Web site; and identifying alumni who would be qualified to serve on an academic unit advisory board, the President’s Advisory Council, or the Board of Trustees, on which two-thirds of members and the three officers are alumni.

Finally, a major goal is to raise the funds necessary to complete this phase of the facilities master plan and begin the next – an academic complex and more residential space. For now, we can celebrate the opening of the Fine Arts Building and completion of the new parking grove. The work you see now on campus – live by walking around or digitally by viewing the Web site – is all related to academic programs and university goals, including:

  1. the expansion and renovation of Olmsted Theatre to include a new “black box” theatre, a 500-seat music auditorium, and a 200-seat dance recital hall, plus a new lobby as well as new offices and teaching space;

  2. the renovation of Woodruff Hall and the construction of a new Activities and Sports Center connected to it;

  3. the movement of Stiles Field just behind the new Sports Center, with artificial turf, lights, and one-level, below-ground parking for 300-plus cars;

  4. the new Alice Brown Early Learning Center;

  5. relocated tennis courts; and

  6. a new Grounds Garage for the people and vehicles who do so much to make sure our campus is beautiful and well-maintained.

In addition to raising funds for facilities construction, we are obtaining gifts for new endowments for faculty support and student scholarships. This fundraising effort is a major part of our goal to increase revenue from sources other than student tuition and fees.

These goals are ambitious, but we approach them with passion and the full knowledge that they are neither frivolous nor luxurious, and that we can afford them. I am pleased to acknowledge the generosity of the trustees, senior staff, and deans, and the extraordinary gifts of many faculty and staff.

Conclusion

In 1964, a year after Adelphi had been granted University status, and he was ready to retire, President Eddy reflected on his 27 years in office, during which the campus flourished in so many ways. He said,

These are the tasks before us: to grow in quality as well as quantity and develop a functional structure and table of organization proper to a university; and to continue to satisfy our own ideal of a good education and the community’s desire for one . . .

It has taken us a long time to reach the educational position we occupy today. It will take us some time to get used to our new name and to become adjusted to the new situation it signifies.

One old idea, however, we have not forgotten. It is that a small liberal arts college is the parent of this institution. It will remain as the heart of this institution. Whatever we

are was derived from this. Whatever we will be, can be meaningful only if we regard this as our major reason for being . . .

Adelphi looks to the future with a confidence rooted in past achievements, the belief that it is attaining its present objectives, and concrete plans for growth in a modern society.19

And so we do today.

Please join us this afternoon to celebrate Alice Brown and Sung Moon, and to raise a toast to each other for the extraordinary news story in The New York Times Monday.

Please also remember to join the Board of Trustees and me, along with many other members of the staff and student body, at the flagpole on Monday at 10:28 a.m., when we commemorate the fifth anniversary of 9/11.

Thank you.


State of the University 2006 – Garden City, September 6, 2006.

1 Neely, Eugene. “A Look Back: Adelphi’s First Community Service.” Adelphi University Magazine, Fall 2003, p. 62.
2 Levermore, Charles H. “Commencement Address,” Adelphi College, June 15, 1911. Adelphi Alumnae Fair.
3 Beecher, Henry Ward. Adelphi Academy Website: About Adelphi History.”
4 Barrows, Chester L. Fifty Years of Adelphi College. New York: Adelphi College Press, 1946, p. 69, and Eugene Neely “History of Teacher Education at Adelphi,” July 19, 2006 email and attachment.
5 “Studies at the Adelphi,” Brooklyn Eagle, December 20, 1893, p. 9.
6 “Exploding the Charter School Myth,” The New York Times, August 27, 2006, p. wk. 9.
7 Teachers and the Uncertain American Future. New York: College Board. July 2006, p.5.
8 Op. Cit., p. 9.
9 Op. Cit., p. 8.
10 “Some Ideal Conditions of Education on Long Island.” Attributed to Charles Levermore – about 1911. Adelphi University Archives.
11 Ward, William Arthur. Quoted in Lumina Foundation for Education 2005 Annual Report, cover page.
12 Repeated from “Promises to Keep,” my Inaugural Address, May 5, 2001.
13 Neely, Eugene T. “Relationship between Adelphi College and the Mills School for Kindergarten – Primary Teachers. “Private Communication,” June 9, 2006.
14 Op. Cit.
15 Lievrouw, Leah A. “the Post-8/10 World.” Letter to Editor. The New York Times Magazine, September 3, 2006, p. 8.
16 Seen on a pillow in Stockholm at a store dedicated to Frank’s work.
17 Fiske Guide to Colleges 2007, p. 1.
18 Robinson, Marilynne. Gilead. New York: Farrar Strauss Giroux, 2004, p. 7.
19 Barrows, Chester L. Adelphi Since 1846. Unpublished manuscript. Adelphi University Archives.
 
Tagged: President Emeritus