Editor’s Note: College News, typically issued on Fridays, contains items of interest about AICUM member colleges. Submit items to Brad Freeman: email@example.com.
A weekly digest of important initiatives and trends occurring at AICUM member campuses : Thursday, November 20, 2014
Springfield Republican: Becker College Promoting ‘Life Experience’ Credits for Business Degree
By Brendan McKenna
Becker College is hoping that students in the workforce in need of a college degree will consider the school’s business program, which offers credits for training they’ve already received.
Sheila Soloperto, director of student services for Becker’s Accelerated & Professional Studies program, said that students can earn up to 48 of the 122 credits needed for the schools bachelor of science in Business Administration degree by providing proof of prior experience and training.
And while the program isn’t new — Becker has offered the lifetime learning credits since it acquired the accelerated business degree from Lesley College in 2001 — Soloperto said it’s a good way for perspective students to cut down the time and cost of getting a degree.
Soloperto said that in order to qualify, students must provide documentation of their training, with 30 hours of training translating to one credit.
The offerings may be particularly useful for people in the banking and insurance industries who have “climbed the corporate ladder” for some time without a degree but now find themselves needing one due to a buyout or merger, Soloperto said.
In banking and insurance, Soloperto said, licensing and other trade requirements are often easy to document so the school can readily transfer those certifications to life experience credits.
But even students who have gone through hairdressing or massage therapy programs could also qualify.
“If they can document the training, then they can receive credit,” she said.
The college does, however, require students seeking to transform their experience into credits to take a “portfolio class” to document their experience and begin the process of branding themselves, Soloperto said.
The lifetime learning credits aren’t free – Becker charges $100 per credit, which is a notable savings from the $400 per credit for regular classes.
And although students max out at 48 credits of lifetime experience, because most of them can only be applied to the school’s unrestricted elective requirements, many students may top out at 30, she said.
However, she added that she school awarded a student who served in the Middle East credits toward the college’s non-western studies requirement, and some hairdressers have earned chemistry credits and massage studies have counted towards anatomy or physiology.
The program, Soloperto said, is a way for Becker to “reward them for their life experience and recognize that they’re not 18 years old, coming out of high school.”
“It’s not an easy process, [students] may have to dig through boxes and find their old training records,” she said. “But it’s a great way to help them earn their degree sooner rather than later. And it’s not just past training, it can be current as well.”
Soloperto said that although Becker would like to offer similar credits in other programs, for now the life experience credits are limited to the business program – which also offers many course offerings online.
|Berklee College of Music:
Raising Voices: City Music Keeps Students First at 20th Annual Encore Gala
By Bryan Parys
In the Starlight Ballroom at Marriott Copley Square, there are layers of voices, as hundreds of guests gather at Berklee’s 20th annual Encore Gala.
Among them are actress Jamie Lee Curtis, the night’s emcee, and her husband, filmmaker Christopher Guest, who is a Berklee trustee. Bedecked in sleek formal attire, some attendees lean back in laughter, while others incline over their plates, listening to a story that has caught their ear. Many of these conversations center around Berklee City Music, the focus of the night’s fundraiser. Launched in 1993, City Music brings the voices of underserved youth to the forefront, their innovative curriculum impacting more than 28,000 students through 47 Berklee City Music Network sites around the U.S. and Canada.
Despite the wide-ranging conversations, the evening’s house band, Alissia and the Funketeers, seems to bring a groove to it all. Berklee bassist Alissia Benveniste leads the student band and each member sports varsity-style letter jackets with sleeves of Berklee red. The group creates a backbeat that corrals the dinner conversations from more than 60 tables-the crash of cymbals and the clinking of glassware-into a kind of harmony.
Jumbotron screens flank either side of the stage, scrolling through a slideshow of pictures and quotations from City Music participants. “Kids learn to…fight for and be involved in their community,” reads one parent’s quote, a visual reminder of the program’s value.
One of the voices that City Music has amplified is that of Robert Gould, a music business/management major and proud recipient of a City Music scholarship. Gould, a current Berklee student who has been involved with City Music since his junior year of high school, soon takes center stage at the Gala, singing with unflinching conviction as the Funketeers take on a mash-up of the songs “I Believe” from the film Fantasia and “Higher Ground” by Stevie Wonder.
“It was great for me to be in that environment,” Gould says after the Gala, speaking about his performance singing for the many people that make the program so successful, from the hundreds of donors to special guests like George Clinton of Parliament-Funkadelic fame and Fred Wesley, trombonist in the original James Brown band. Gould goes on, saying, “[City Music] is providing a voice for so many students-so many dreams who want to be heard.”
After the dinner program, two floors of the hotel become a series of themed nightclubs, pounding out diverse grooves the likes of which only Berklee could bring to a black tie affair. Toes tap to bluegrass led by Sierra Hull ’11 in the common area while hundreds of others literally dance from one room to the next-from Terrance Simien and the Zydeco Experience in the World Music Club to Tower of Power singer Ray Greene ’96 in the Funketeer Club, leading a Berklee ensemble dedicated to his band’s catalog.
In the room dubbed the Singer-Songwriter Club, Berklee senior Callie Huber dedicates a song about Boston to all the friends she’s made at Berklee, singing, “[the] city may change, but our story is far from over.”
And when you step back and let it all in-from the thumping clubrooms to the endless islands of side-conversations-it’s all about stories getting started, and more voices being heard.
|College of the Holy Cross:
Holy Cross Ranks First in the Nation for Jesuit Volunteers
Thirty-one recent graduates from the College of the Holy Cross have dedicated themselves to a year of service with the Jesuit Volunteer Corps (JVC) and the Jesuit Volunteer Corps Northwest, making Holy Cross first in the nation for the most Jesuit Volunteers among colleges and universities throughout the country. Over the course of the year, the volunteers will serve hundreds of thousands of people while addressing issues such as hunger and homelessness, poverty, domestic violence, end-of-life care, mental health, and food justice. JVC has recruited 18 volunteers from Holy Cross and JVC Northwest, which operates independently, recruited an additional 13 volunteers. Holy Cross graduates have a history of volunteering with these programs: in 2013, 11 volunteers joined JVC and three joined JVC Northwest; while in 2012, 14 volunteers joined JVC and five joined JVC Northwest.
“The number of graduates serving in post graduate service programs such as the Jesuit Volunteer Corps is an important indicator of the seriousness with which our students wrestle with important questions in our mission statement, such as, ‘What are our special responsibilities to the world’s poor and powerless?'” says Marybeth Kearns-Barrett, director of the chaplains’ office. “They demonstrate a significant way in which Holy Cross graduates seek to embody the Jesuit commitment to the service of faith and the promotion of justice. While programs such as these are not the only way graduates live out these commitments, post grad volunteers serve as an important bellwether and witness for the wider Holy Cross community.”
Rooted in the core values of social and ecological justice, simple living, community, and spirituality, the JVC and JVC Northwest programs give young men and women the chance to work full-time for justice and peace. Participants serve for one or two years, during which time they live among the poor and marginalized, and strive for social justice within these environments.
Jesuit volunteers work at schools, health clinics, legal clinics, parishes, domestic violence shelters and non-profit organizations in the United States and abroad. Those working in the Northwest also teach in schools on Native American reservations.
Holy Cross graduates are among 314 Jesuit volunteers serving in 60 communities across the world. There are 147 Jesuit volunteers serving in 24 locations throughout the five states of the Northwest (Alaska, Idaho, Montana, Oregon and Washington)..
Beverly Citizen: Seniors, Endicott Students Bond Over Board Games
By Kate Evans
What could be better than good conversation, pizza and a heated game of Chinese checkers?
At least, that’s what seniors and students who attended the Council on Aging’s second-ever game night last week thought.
On Thursday, Nov. 6, a group of seniors challenged Endicott College students to a few rounds of Chinese checkers, Scrabble, cribbage, chess, dominoes, Trivial Pursuit and more, all while enjoying unique conversation and munching on snacks.
The game night, which is planned twice a month through December, encourages intergenerational connections throughout the community.
Eight college students joined eight seniors last week for a fun-filled face-off of Walgreen’s best games.
Among the seniors was Elizabeth Grassin, who was beating Endicott College student and COA intern Nikki Dunham at Chinese checkers. Grassin’s skill can be traced back to her childhood when she first learned the game from her grandmother. When Grassin’s grandson was five years old, she passed on the tradition to him.
Then, last week, she taught Dunham to play.
“She did really well,” said Grassin.
As an intern, Dunham works on outreach programs, conducts home visits and helps with events such as game night.
“I think it’s a great way to have the younger and older generations interact,” she said.
Grassin attended the first game night, and said “chances look good” that she’ll attend the next. There, she plans to play Chinese checkers again.
“I don’t have to play chess [or] Yahtzee anymore,” Grassin said. “I can play what I like.”
Long-time COA member Nancy Kadlick called her first time at game night “fun.”
“The kids are friendly and, of course, I love Scrabble,” she said.
Kadlick played with Endicott College student Alessandro Calzone and COA member Cynthia Potter.
“It’s fun, but I’m getting my butt kicked,” said Calzone, who was questioned by Kadlick about his placement of a blank tile.
Kadlick joked that she couldn’t let Potter win, but then she said “it’s only fun.”
Kadlick, who generally works at one COA party each month, had been at the COA since 10:30 that morning working at the craft fair.
Across the room, COA member Eric Swanson and Endicott student Brian Strong competed against COA member Vinnie Cavanaugh and Endicott student Zac Poland in a game of cribbage. Swanson had a bit of an advantage, as his father taught him the game in the 1950s.
It was Poland’s first time playing cribbage, but he said he was starting to catch on. His favorite part of game night, he said, was being social with others.
When the Citizen asked Swanson the same question, he joked, “pizza.”
“No, it’s [the] social [aspect], meeting new people,” said Swanson, retracting his former answer.
“They weren’t even born when I graduated high school!” said Swanson, gesturing toward Strong and Poland.
Despite the age gap, the group seemed to be getting along.
“It takes a couple rounds to get used to,” Poland said. “Eric’s a good teacher, too, so that helps.”
The COA will hold a special casino-themed game night next Thursday, Nov. 20, from 4 to 5:30 p.m. at the center at 90 Colon St. Tables will be decorated with green tablecloths, and event-goers can choose to play casino type or regular games.
Those interested in attending are encouraged to dress to impress, and to sign up in advance by calling the center at 978-921-6017.
Additional upcoming game nights will take place Dec. 4 and Dec. 18.
Endicott College Awarded Feasibility Grant to Explore Future Construction of Zero Net Energy Building
Endicott College is proud to announce it has been awarded $24,500 by the state to study the feasibility of designing and building a zero net energy building (ZNEB) on its campus in Beverly, Mass. The grant is one of 25 awarded by the Massachusetts Secretary of Energy and Environmental Affairs (EEA) Maeve Bartlett as part of the Pathways to Zero Grant Program.
ZNEBs are optimally efficient, consuming no more energy over the course of the year than they produce from on-site renewable sources such as solar, wind, biofuels and solar thermal collectors. The benefits include reduced operating expenses, healthier and more comfortable buildings, energy independence, and lower greenhouse gas emissions.
“Endicott is working hard to decrease our own energy demand and this grant will help us to understand how to make that possible in future construction projects,” said Sarah Hammond Creighton, Director of Office of Sustainability at Endicott College. “With natural land all around us – forests, wetlands, oceans – it’s important to maintain an environmental impact that’s as low as possible. If we have the ability to make our next project a zero net energy building, that will be a huge step we can be proud of.”
This study furthers the college’s comprehensive energy efficiency work that has reduced electricity use by 7% over business as usual. In addition, Endicott hosts a solar parking lot canopy that generates almost 10% of the campus electricity. Campus-wide initiatives in sustainability and efficiency have been a priority for the College for many years, and have not only helped reduce the resources used on campus but to also help educate students on the importance of governance and engagement. Endicott was recently identified by The Princeton Review as one of the country’s 332 Green Colleges.
The Pathways to Zero is a new initiative launched by the Department of Energy Resources (DOER) to support the emerging zero net energy building market in Massachusetts, primarily through residential and commercial demonstration projects that are on the pathway to achieve or exceed a ZNEB goal.
Further reducing the use of fossil fuels and securing the Commonwealth’s energy future, the Patrick Administration has made investments in renewable energy. In 2007, Massachusetts had just over 3 megawatts each of solar and wind capacity installed; today there are 664 megawatts of solar installed, with a goal of 1,600 megawatts by 2020. Endicott’s solar array is one of those projects.
Students, Lasell Village Collaborate to Gather School Supplies for Boston Area School Children
Lasell Visual Merchandising students and Lasell Village residents recently collaborated on a project called Boxed for Success that will bring colorfully designed boxes of school supplies to children at St. Patrick School in Roxbury, Mass.
The project, which combines design-related work for fashion students and community service, was created through a College connection between the Center for Community Based Learning (CCBL) and St. Patrick School.
“Each year the Visual class has an assigned project that involves an aspect of community service. This year we are happy to have the opportunity to work with a local elementary school and to take an intergenerational approach as well,” said Fashion Design Professor Anne Vallely.
The CCBL, which organizes a group of Lasell student tutors to volunteer at St. Patrick School, received word that the school needed school supplies.
The Visual Merchandizing students were asked to design boxes to house the school supplies and gather supply donations to fill them. Many of the supplies came from Lasell Village residents who were asked to contribute.
The boxes are scheduled for delivery November 24, just before the Thanksgiving holiday. The Lasell students plan to deliver the boxes and speak to the children about the meaning of the holiday.
Newbury Announces Renovation Project: The Student Success Center
Newbury College has announced plans to construct a new Student Success Center. The 16,000+ SF renovation project will include a revitalization of the current Library and Academic Center on campus, with the facilities expected to be complete and ready for use by fall, 2015.
With Academic Support and Career Services now housed under one roof, this redesigned space will transform the student learning environment at Newbury College, and will provide necessary access to a place where students can continually develop and refine their skills toward becoming independent thinkers, valuable collaborators, and global-minded citizens.
“The new Student Success Center will enable each student to strive for academic excellence by providing a learning environment built upon individual success,” said Newbury College President Joseph L. Chillo, LP.D. “By focusing on the College’s mission and the needs of our students, the Student Success Center will be the hallmark of a transformative learning experience.”
Newbury’s new Student Success Center will merge synergistic resources from across campus, making it easier than ever before to utilize these services. Students will have the opportunity to take advantage of these tools around the clock, too, as the Center will be accessible 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
Margaret M. Winslow, member of the Newbury College Board of Trustees and principle project donor for the Student Success Center, agreed that the state-of-the-art space will create a welcoming area for students to gather, to learn and to grow.
“My financial support of Newbury resonates with my belief in the importance of education and in creating opportunities for all,” said Winslow. “The Student Success Center holds great potential for every students’ future as well as Newbury’s academic future.”
In support of this effort, additional funding for the project will come from individual donors and entities alike. Project architects, Stantec of Boston, MA have developed building renderings and designs, and a builder to lead the project construction effort will soon be selected, as well.
As the project construction is slated to begin in spring 2015, the Newbury community can find inspiration in the continued development, improvement and success of the College.
“Newbury remains deeply committed to educational opportunity by providing a Center focused on student growth and success,” added Chillo. “By creating this space for our students, Newbury is making certain that every student has the skills and ability to be successful in life after graduation.”
Nichols Energy Efficiency Project to Save More Than $527,000 for the College
Nichols College is expecting lifetime savings of over $527,000 through the implementation of energy efficiency measures across four buildings as part of the Mass College Green program. Sustainability and behavioral components are also included to engage building occupants and enhance campus-wide sustainable behavior.
“We are pleased to lead the way as the first of five colleges implementing the Mass College Green initiative,” said Dr. Susan West Engelkemeyer, President of Nichols College. “This innovative program is providing Nichols the funding needed for energy efficiency improvements while integrating sustainability components and addressing deferred maintenance issues.”
The Mass College Green initiative was developed by GreenerU in collaboration with the Association of Independent Colleges and Universities (AICUM) and MassDevelopment, the state’s finance and development agency. The program helps colleges reduce energy costs and become more sustainable by providing financing to quickly deliver energy efficiency at no upfront cost to the colleges.
“Energy efficiency and sustainability projects are critical to helping our colleges keep higher education affordable for our students,” said Richard Doherty, President of the Association of Independent Colleges and Universities in Massachusetts (AICUM). “This initiative integrates what the Nichols faculty teaches, and what students and staff care deeply about, a smarter, more environmentally sustainable campus.”
“GreenerU applauds Nichols College for being the first Massachusetts college to participate in the Mass College Green program,” said Rob Pratt, founder and CEO of GreenerU. “AICUM and MassDevelopment have been great partners to work with, and we look forward to the energy savings and sustainability benefits that Nichols and other Mass College Green colleges will be achieving in the coming years.”
This fall, Nichols expects to complete energy efficiency engineering, construction management, behavioral programs, communications, and outreach, with measurement and verification continuing through August 2019.
News @Northeastern: ‘Generation Z’ is Entrepreneurial, Wants to Chart its Own Future
A new national survey from Northeastern University reveals that members of “Generation Z”-those born in the mid ’90s or later-are highly self-directed, demonstrated by a strong desire to work for themselves, study entrepreneurship, and design their own programs of study in college.
According to the new survey, 63 percent of the respondents-all between the ages of 16 and 19-said they want to learn about entrepreneurship in college, including how to start a business. Nearly three out of four (72 percent) said that colleges should allow students to design their own course of study or major. In addition, 42 percent said they expect to work for themselves at some point, nearly four times higher than the actual percentage of self-employed Americans. This finding was even more pronounced among African-Americans (60 percent) and Hispanics (59 percent).
“A new generation of Americans is on the rise: highly entrepreneurial, pluralistic, and determined to take charge of their own futures,” said Northeastern President Joseph E. Aoun. “Those of us in higher education must listen to this next generation and enable them to chart their own paths, gain valuable experience, and become the leaders of tomorrow.”
Infographic of survey results
The individualism of Generation Z does not appear to be at odds with achieving their goals through a traditional higher education framework. Eighty-one percent said obtaining a college degree is important to having the career they want-compared to 74 percent from a 2012 Northeastern survey of the general public. Among Generation Z respondents, 65 percent say the benefits of a college degree outweigh the costs.
Despite these findings, respondents have trepidation about the cost of college, with 67 percent saying they are concerned about being able to afford college. Generation Z appears to be particularly averse to student loan debt; 25 percent say they don’t think any debt is manageable and 44 percent saying they could only handle debt payments of $100 a month. Financial worries for Generation Z extend beyond college, with 64 percent saying they are concerned about being able to get a job and 60 percent expressing concern about having enough money.
This financial anxiety-perhaps incubated in the Great Recession-is coupled with a strong desire to become more financially educated and to obtain real-world experience. Eighty-five percent said they want to be taught practical skills in college such as financial planning and saving for the future. Seventy-nine percent believe their college education should include some form of professional experience such as internships.
Contrary to the prevailing narrative about today’s teenagers, the survey revealed somewhat modest enthusiasm for technology, particularly its use within higher education. For example, only 52 percent said an online degree will be recognized and accepted the same as a traditional college degree in the near future, compared to 67 percent of young professionals already in the workforce, who were surveyed by Northeastern in 2012.
Similarly, in their personal lives, technology hasn’t supplanted in-person interaction. Only 15 percent of Generation Z respondents say they prefer to interact with friends via social media than in person. Only 38 percent said they make most of their purchases online.
On a range of social issues, Generation Z exhibits strong support for equality. Seventy-three percent agreed that everyone should have the right to marry regardless of sexual orientation, and 74 percent said transgender people should have equal rights. Fifty-five percent said everyone should have the right to become a U.S. citizen, regardless of where they were born and how they came to the country.
Other noteworthy findings:
The national survey is the fourth in Northeastern’s “Innovation Imperative” thought-leadership series on the future of higher education and its relationship to the global economy. This newest poll, conducted by FTI Consulting, included telephone and online surveys with more than 1,000 teenagers (16- to 19-year olds) from Oct. 8 – 23, 2014. The margin of error is +/-3.08.
The release of the findings will take place Tuesday morning at an event at the Newseum in Washington, D.C., organized by Northeastern in partnership with Marketplace from American Public Media. The summit, titled “Innovation Imperative: Meet Generation Z,” will include a panel discussion featuring Northeastern President Joseph E. Aoun; Amy Scott, education correspondent for Marketplace; Bridget Terry Long, the Saris Professor of Education and Economics at the Harvard Graduate School of Education; and Keyaun Heydarian, a 17-year old high school senior and founder of CollegeRoleModel.com.
Daily Hampshire Gazette: When Students Call, Smith Profs Step In To Teach NHS AP Biology
By Gena Mangiaratti
Smith College biology professor Robert L. Dorit can make a comparison between DNA replication and text messaging: The faster it’s done, the more room for error.
This is how Dorit explained to a class of 16 focused Northampton High School students why viruses can spread so quickly in the human body. As a virus replicates imperfectly, it changes shape, making it harder for the body to recognize and fight.
“The faster those proteins change shape, the better the virus can elude the body,” Dorit said after class one day last week.
After an unexpected vacancy in the science department at the start of the semester left the Advanced Placement biology class taught by a substitute teacher, Dorit and some colleagues stepped up to ensure that the students’ enthusiasm for the subject did not fall by the wayside.
Advanced Placement classes offer students an opportunity to earn college credit if they score high enough on an exam at the end of the school year. Junior Devon Barry said that she and the other students were disappointed that they had a substitute teacher – and wanted a way to keep up the academic rigor.
“All of us had signed up for an AP biology course, and you expect a really intense course that is going to prepare you for the AP exam,” said Barry, 16. “We were like, we really need some help as soon as we can get it to get us on track.”
The arrangement with the Smith College faculty came about after Barry’s father, Sean, a medical writer, reached out to an acquaintance at the college after he learned that the class was without a permanent teacher. He recalled that he was inspired in high school by an AP biology class, and wanted his daughter and her classmates to have a similar experience.
“Mostly, I’m just a passionate nerd when it comes to the sciences,” Sean Barry said. “I think when kids get that fire for something, there’s no knowing where they’ll go.”
Dorit lined up some help. Sharing the teaching load with him are Smith College professors Stylianos P. Scordilis, Robert B. Merritt, assistant professor Nathan Derr and instructors Lou Ann Bierwert and Denise Lello.
All are volunteering their time to teach the class. Since Oct. 14, they have taken turns coming to the school to lead the 85-minute class five days a week while school officials worked on finding a permanent solution.
Matthew Kunze, a science teacher in the Boston area who has also taught AP biology at Amherst Regional High School, has been hired to fill the vacancy and began that role Monday.
In the weeks before the Smith College professors stepped in, the students had worked under the supervision of a substitute teacher on worksheets and group presentations. Students said the college-level lectures were a refreshing departure from their textbooks.
Devon Barry said she enjoyed learning about current research in addition to theories that have already been established. She recalled one lecture in which Scordilis shared a video that suggested a new understanding of mitochondrial fusion, and told the class that they would not find that idea on the advanced placement test because it is still being researched.
“I personally like it more than I would like AP bio, actually,” she said. “It gives us kind of a sense of the contemporary field of biology and what’s going on in the real world.”
Senior Jonah Herzog-Arbeitman, 17, agreed. He said his favorite lessons have included one by Dorit on the different ways life can be categorized and one by Scordilis on the rate at which enzymes can catalyze reactions.
“It’s really great to have these great college-level lectures be at our high school,” Herzog-Arbeitman said.
Northampton High School Associate Principal Christopher Brennan worked with Dorit to coordinate arrangements. He said Smith College has long been a valuable resource to the high school. He noted that for several years, juniors and seniors with grade point averages of 3.4 or higher have challenged themselves by taking classes at Smith.
The professors’ willingness to pitch in to fill the temporary vacancy was immensely helpful, he noted. Had they not stepped in to keep up the pace of the class, he said, some students might have been discouraged from taking the advanced placement test at the end of the year.
“It did more than just fill in a space,” Brennan said. “They’re actually invaluable in many ways.”
In class last week, Dorit animatedly delivered the lecture on DNA replication while the students listened intently. He made sure everyone had their questions answered before moving onto a different section, and made sure to call on as many students as possible. When one female student began a question by saying that she knew it was a “stupid question,” Dorit told her never to undermine herself like that.
He noted that the faculty members are not teaching according to the Advanced Placement test preparation curriculum, but are more focused on sharing their expertise as a way to keep the students’ interest alive while they await their new teacher.
Before he and his colleagues came in, he said, the class had continued to study diligently while under the supervision of substitute teachers. Had he been in a similar situation in the 12th grade, sitting quietly and taking notes from the textbook is the last thing he would have done, he said with a laugh.
“I was really impressed with just the commitment of the kids,” Dorit said.
He said he hopes to somehow continue the relationship with the school, one idea being to have Smith faculty members come back periodically to lecture on current research.
“I am going to miss the kids and the class,” he said. “It’s been really fun.”
Opinion: Facing One of the Greatest Human Rights Challenges of Our Time
By Jackie-Jenkins Scott
This fall, I joined college presidents from around the country to plan ways to strengthen campus climate action and sustainability initiatives. Our institutions have a central role in preparing new generations to meet the challenges of climate change. Graduates in all fields must be equipped to create systems that meet health, security, and economic needs in harmony with our precious environment. This critical work cannot be done without profound support from more higher education leaders and the great faculty and committed students of our institutions.
Inspirational Wheelock College 2007 Honorary Degree recipient, Archbishop Desmond Tutu, powerfully stated the reality of climate change in September: “The destruction of the earth’s environment is the human rights challenge of our time.” As the leader of an institution that champions the well-being of all children and families, I am concerned about the impact of environmental degradation on communities around the world, especially in the face of catastrophic events. It is understood that all of Earth’s systems are interconnected–we cannot look at them in isolation. What happens in our most developed communities as we use a disproportionate share of nature’s resources will impact our developing communities as they strive to compete in our global economy. I am encouraged by our own students and those around the world as they challenge our institutional leaders to do more!
This past October, the Presidential Summit on Climate Leadership conference was convened to demonstrate our commitment to doing more, to discuss ways that colleges can assist in negating the effects of climate change on campuses, and to promote community dialogue. Many of the participants, like Wheelock, are signatories of the American College & University Presidents’ Climate Commitment (ACUPCC) to recognize the dangers of climate change and commit to heading toward the goal of carbon neutrality. Academia is already demonstrating significant leadership in addressing climate change and is at the forefront of making changes in terms of carbon emissions as the third largest purchaser of Renewable Energy Credits.
At Wheelock, we have made a vital push to integrate sustainable practices on our campus as we attempt to create a healthy, just, and sustainable society, aligning with our mission to improve the lives of children and families. As a small, urban college, we use our creativity to strengthen sustainability on campus through leveraging collaborations with local organizations such as Colleges of the Fenway (COF) and Medical Academic and Scientific Community Organization (MASCO) to encourage alternative transportation methods for our employees and students. The College subsidizes 75% of its employees’ public transit (T) passes, whereas the area standard for subsidization is 25-50%. Our new buildings have innovative design features such as light-absorbing windows, local materials, sensor operated lighting, and low-flow fixtures, that reduce the College’s energy costs while conserving natural resources and helping the environment. As we renovate and upgrade older buildings, we are doing so using sustainable practices. Additionally, we have worked closely with our food vendor, Sodexo, to develop ways to reduce waste in our dining facilities. For example, removing trays is one way Wheelock and many other schools are minimizing food waste in cafeterias. While Wheelock has made progress towards the goal of carbon neutrality, we have a ways to go and continue to seek funding that can support these changes.
In addition to increasing our campus’ sustainability, we are also committed to educating students who will be leaders in environmental advocacy and sustainability in the future. To that end, Wheelock created an undergraduate Environmental Studies Major and a minor in Sustainability though the six-college consortium of the COF to help our students understand the need to protect the world’s resources for generations to come. Programs in environmental studies and sustainability are spreading as the growing population increases the demand for energy, water, and food and have become one of eleven hot majors that lead to careers with a future, according to US News and World Report. The Major in Environmental Studies provides students with the foundation required to study environmental issues through an interdisciplinary lens. The Minor in Sustainability seeks to educate students about the interdisciplinary aspects of science/technology, economics/public policy, and social justice that affect the ability of society to manage natural resources (such as clean air, water, energy) in a way in which those resources meet society’s present and future needs. These programs are growing in popularity and students point to their interdisciplinary approach as key in helping them to get jobs tackling complex environmental challenges.
Through the COF Center for Sustainability for the Environment, Wheelock collaborates with faculty, staff, and students from the six member colleges to enhance understanding of the complex issues of sustainability as they relate to natural resources and the environment. The center focuses on how improvements in sustainability and urban environmental issues can be viewed as positive change regarding environmental justice.
Students hold tremendous power on college campuses and can have the highest level of influence in terms of making change. For this reason, I am thrilled that our first on campus eco-club, Wheelock Students for Environmental Action, was created. This student-led organization inspires upcoming generations to initiate sustainable lifestyles to prepare for the future. By partnering with faculty and staff, the club promotes environmental awareness, sustainability, and greener lifestyles on, and off-campus. A key component of the organization is collaborating with other environmental clubs within the COF to promote environmental activism across the community and increase outreach.
In facing one of today’s most important human rights challenges, it’s time that higher education takes a leadership role in responding to climate and sustainability challenges in community, regional, and national contexts. Combined, our campuses have the expertise, the research, and the desire to create real change. I am most confident that higher education leaders will take as many opportunities as possible, including future Presidential Summits on Climate Leadership, for administration, faculty, students, and staff to make visible sustained progress in our efforts to meet the challenges of climate change.
Jackie Jenkins-Scott is President of Wheelock College
Rocket Scientist Installed as WPI President
By Paula Owen
Worcester Polytechnic Institute’s first woman president in its 150-year history wasted no time in setting big goals for the school at her inauguration in the sports and recreation center Saturday morning, setting a target of making WPI the premier global polytechnic.
WPI’s new president, Laurie A. Leshin, is a former NASA scientist who has been shooting for the stars most of her career, achieving great things, and even having an asteroid named after her – “4922 Leshin.”
She brings more than 20 years of experience as a leader in academia and government service to the post.
“You don’t have to be a rocket scientist to be the president of WPI, but it doesn’t hurt,” U.S. Sen. Edward Markey, D-Mass., remarked during his speech welcoming the school’s 16th president.
Ironically, Ms. Leshin was a senior scientist at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center, named after one of WPI’s most famous alums, Robert H. Goddard, the father of modern rocketry. Also a member of NASA’s Mars Curiosity team, Ms. Leshin is still on call for monitoring the rover.
During Saturday’s ceremony, local and state officials and community leaders welcomed Ms. Leshin. She was shown a video of WPI students working in WPI project centers around the world who welcomed her. The video included a surprise greeting from Astronaut Reid Wiseman from aboard the international space station.
Mayor Joseph M. Petty called her a dynamic, forward-thinking leader who he said arrived at a crucial time when too many women think science, technology or mathematics (STEM)careers are not for them. Mr. Petty said Ms. Leshin is a role model and inspiration “for all our daughters.”
Saturday evening, an Intergalactic Inaugural Ball celebrating WPI’s “place in the universe,” was planned.
A self-proclaimed “space nerd,” Ms. Leshin said she was honored to accept her appointment.
She said she joined two societies – the society of WPI presidents and the society of women pioneers at the school, including Lesley Small Zorabedian, the first woman to earn an undergraduate degree from WPI in 1972; and Barbara Murphy, the first woman faculty member at WPI.
WPI offers a rigorous, project-based education that has been envied and emulated by other institutions, she said, but must look at how it can do better.
Ms. Leshin said she wants to expand WPI’s programs for undergraduates and alums and give all WPI students a chance to participate in projects off campus, not just those who can afford it. Around 200 students out of WPI’s 500 undergraduates are working in project centers, including those in South Africa, Albania, Australia, Puerto Rico, China and Washington, D.C.
“First, to become the premier global polytechnic, we must expand WPI’s global presence to increase our impact in communities locally, nationally and worldwide,” she said. “WPI is engaged in a quest with a critical focus: to prepare the next generation of STEM leaders who are vital to the future competitiveness and prosperity of our nation. If we want to prepare our students to become these leaders, then we must give them the opportunity to work within the world, out in the world, as a part of the world, not comfortably installed on this campus for four years, as beautiful as it may be. Doing so will bring even greater benefits to those communities and to the heart of our enterprise, our students.”