Ithaca College Quarterly 2004/4  

 

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President's Corner

The Ithaca Model

At the vanguard of a new higher education movement.

It seems that the outside world is starting to catch on to what Ithaca College students and alumni have known for some time: the integration of liberal and professional studies -- a hallmark of what Ithaca offers -- gives students the best of both worlds, providing an alternative to the "old" models of higher education.

This alternative, dubbed the "third way" in the October issue of the Atlantic Monthly magazine, has in fact had its own national organization for the past decade. The Associated New American Colleges (ANAC), of which Ithaca College is a charter member, was founded in 1995 as a consortium of selective, independent institutions dedicated to an ideal first articulated by the late Ernest L. Boyer, who served as United States commissioner of education and president of the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching.

Boyer called this model the "new American college," melding the historic mission and character of liberal arts colleges and land grant universities to serve the needs of a changing global society. The priorities of the new American college, as he put it, are clarifying the curriculum, connecting to the world beyond the classroom, and creating a campus community.

Those principles are put into practice in many ways at Ithaca College. To cite just a few examples:

The Center for Faculty Excellence supports our faculty members as complete teachers and scholars through such projects and initiatives as a mentoring program, colloquium series, summer institute, and a variety of workshops. In the last few years faculty in all departments in all the schools, as well as administrators, have been taking a close look at their curricula, adapting and refining where necessary.

The annual James J. Whalen Academic Symposium spotlights the scores of student-faculty research collaborations that take place in the schools and Division of Interdisciplinary and International Studies. As a result of these collaborations our undergraduates often coauthor papers and present their re search at major professional conferences.

Community service is part of Ithaca's culture. The Center for Student Leadership and Involvement helps foster a lifelong commitment to civic responsibility, strengthens College-community relations, and provides educational and leadership opportunities through programs like Community Plunge and Make-a-Difference Day. Classes in all academic areas feature service components, and a campuswide Celebration of Service is held every spring.

The Park Scholar and Martin Luther King Jr. Scholar Programs are competitive, merit-based scholarships that require prior involvement in community service to be considered, as well as ongoing service to maintain the award. The scholars have started a campus branch of the American Red Cross and an adopt-a-highway program, traveled to Brazil and Ghana to study social justice issues, followed the trail of the U.S. civil rights movement (see page 7), and participated in "alternative" spring break trips to work on home construction projects.

Ithaca College has established relationships with schools near and far -- from South Hill Elementary in Ithaca to the Frederick Douglass Academy in Harlem -- and our community members have created such highly regarded initiatives as the Partnership in Teaching program, Project Look Sharp, and COMPASS (Curricular Options in Mathematics Programs for All Secondary Students) to share with others the knowledge and expertise embodied in our faculty, staff, and students.

Through our involvement with ANAC, Ithaca takes part in projects and conferences, surveys and data benchmarking, and international study programs. Faculty members and administrators have taken advantage of opportunities to meet with and learn from colleagues at like-minded institutions. ANAC also serves the wider higher education community by supporting a national dialogue on educational issues and cooperative projects, while giving members a platform for serving as laboratories for education innovation.

The Atlantic article, by Richard M. Free-land, president of Northeastern University and of the World Association for Cooperative Education, lauds ANAC's members -- Ithaca College included -- for helping to organize and articulate the relationship between liberal education and professional education. Freeland concludes, "It is time for the nation's educators to embrace this latent movement and to recognize an important educational idea that can transform and enrich the college experience."

I couldn't agree more. I am proud that Ithaca College is among the leaders in this movement and hope you share that pride.

Peggy R. Willliams

Learn more at Associated New American Colleges.

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