Home / Fall Table of Contents / The Campaign in SOE / Deans' List
Thirty years on the ramparts together: the School of Education's Charles Adams and Patricia Crosson have dedicated their professional lives to supporting diversity. Now they've added a substantial bequest to their commitment.
The early 1970s were heady days in higher education times of intense dialogue about access and equity, about learning contracts and learning communities and learning for the sake of learning, of passionate exchanges about the very purpose of institutions like UMass. There in the thick of the debate, waving the bright banner of inclusiveness, was then-professor Charles Adams, and nearby on the ramparts was then-graduate student Patricia Crosson.
Discussion filled the UMass faculty club and spilled, point and counterpoint, into the English department, where Adams began teaching in 1964. It tumbled headlong into the School of Education, where Crosson, undergraduate work at Smith College behind her, enrolled as a master's student in 1969. And it resonated through the administration's stronghold in Whitmore, where Crosson worked in the chancellor's office.
"We wanted to create an alternative way for students to enter the university, to bring in kids who had been underachievers in high school," recalled Adams this fall, in a conversation at the home in rural Shelburne where he and Crosson have lived for much of their married life.
"These were bright kids who had a hard time adjusting to the environment of the day," said Crosson.
"We wanted to give them two years to figure out what they wanted out of that part of their life," put in Adams.
"The idea," Crosson continued the conversational pas de deux, "was to put them in a residential community, with lots of faculty support, and not let them flunk out as long as they were making a good-faith effort.
"Needless to say," she added with her Amelia-Earhart grin, "not everyone on campus thought it was a great idea."
Nearly thirty years have passed since those debates stirred the old land-grant college, but the dialogue continues, questioning the role of the university in furthering a diverse society. Adams, his beard now gray, is retired from the School of Ed, where he directed the higher education program. Crosson, whose spirit and appearance continue to bring the pioneering aviator to mind, has risen to become an influential figure on campus, serving in recent years as interim provost. She now heads the Center for Education Policy, and teaches higher education administration.
Through all the years and all the changes, neither Adams nor Crosson has lost that early commitment to inclusiveness. Their spirit of joint involvement dates back to those strategy sessions in the early 70s when, for ideas to move forward, they needed support from the administration and the trustees. That was where Crosson's diplomatic skills came into play. Working in Whitmore, she could explain the importance of alternative learning to decision-makers. She could anticipate their reservations and respond convincingly, until their concerns seemed thin and dated. "I was the person who tried to make these ideas sound sensible," she recalled this fall with warm laughter.
From these efforts of Adams and Crosson and those of many colleagues emerged the residential program Project 10, based in Pierpont House in Southwest, where students lived and attended classes and were in many ways buffered from the diversions and uncertainties of what could seem a huge, bureaucratically unyielding institution. Another Adams initiative, the Inquiry Program, exempted participants from general education requirements and gave them more flexibility to chose their academic path.
Skeptics were legion but results were gratifying, Adams says. Students who might otherwise have been academic casualties not only stayed in school, but flourished; many graduated in the top 10 percent of their class.
Support for learning contracts and communities seemed to ebb in the early 80s, but the wheel of educational philosophy is turning once again, says Crosson. "Much of what people are talking about now assessment-based learning, portfolios was exactly what Charles and a few others were doing in the 70s. In many respects we've been recreating those programs in recent years, trying to make the campus seem smaller by establishing educational enclaves."
The Patterson Program, begun in 1996, is one of a number of initiatives indebted to the ideas of Adams and others. Now in its fourth year, the program brings together in Patterson House about 200 freshmen who haven't yet decided on a major. For their first year, the students live together and, in small groups, take a couple of courses that provide an overview of what the university has to offer and help them choose a field of study. "Patterson gives students self-confidence and a chance to build friendships based on academic experiences," explains director of residential academic programs Joseph Battista. And Pat Crosson, he notes, was the provost who found the funding for it.
Today, under Crosson's direction, the Center for Education Policy is poised to embark on a sweeping study of education in the New England states, from kindergarten through college. At the same time, Crosson and the center are eager to delve into another complex subject, the impact of the controversial MCAS exams on classroom teaching in Massachusetts.
Crosson and Adams have brought their talents to bear on many other projects over the years. In 1994 they completed a study of higher education in member countries of the European Union. They focused especially on Ireland, which has invested heavily in new colleges and universities and been rewarded with one of the strongest economies in Europe. The findings affirmed the couple's belief in higher ed as the gateway to opportunity. And it strengthened their commitment to making those chances available at home.
Consistent with that commitment, they recently made a $250,000 bequest intention to the School of Ed, the goal of which is greater diversity among graduate students preparing for roles in higher education. The gift will help financially at-risk doctoral candidates complete their studies here. The Charles Adams and Patricia Crosson Scholarship Fund will specifically target students from groups "historically underrepresented" in higher education.
Too often, Adams explains, the university attracts first-rate students particularly minority students who over time leave, often attracted by better financial support at other institutions. It's not that UMass or the School of Education lack commitment to minorities. On the contrary, the school has worked hard to realize its goals. What it has lacked is money, the wherewithal to ensure that promising graduate students will remain here to complete their degrees.
"This is a real problem that needs a real solution," says Adams in his gruff, matter-of-fact tone. "It has nothing to do with political correctness. People can be as liberal and well-meaning as they want and that's fine but we need administrators and faculty who bring a different perspective. We need people who have walked in different shoes, people who can provide some checks and balances to the hegemony of white middle-class America."
Teaching is the one profession that touches all professions. In sharing thoughts from the front of the classroom or scratching out ideas on the blackboard, teachers not only transfer knowledge but pass on values. Their academic offspring become role models in turn in the ongoing process of teaching and learning. To lose diversity in one generation of educators is to risk losing it for the generation that follows. The sobering implications of that prospect have long been of concern at the School of Education.
"For decades the School of Education has stood out for its genuine commitment to the values and ideals of diversity," Crosson says. "We felt it was important to support those commitments, for us to do that as faculty members and to do it together." Paul Dunphy
The Campaign in SOE
Bailey Jackson in his School of Ed office SCHOOL OF EDUCATION: education policy, research, and administration / teacher education and curriculum studies / student development and pupil personnel services
Considering that he has a forty-two-year-old school and a two-year-old campaign, the latter is coming along just fine, says School of Ed dean BAILEY JACKSON '73G, '76G. "The campaign has been very helpful in rejuvenating our relationships with alumni and alumnae, and they're moving us closer to our goals," said Jackson in October. Those goals are facilities improvements, endowed chairs, and more support for students, "especially in ways that will support our diversity profile." For that reason, "we're extraordinarily fortunate to have friends like Pat and Charles" -professors Pat Crosson and Charles Adams, whose bequest intention is profiled in the story above.
· Distinguished Career Contributions to Research Award, American Psychological Association (Psychological Study of Ethnic and Minority Issues Division), William Cross, student development and pupil personnel services.
· Lightner Witmer Award, American Psychological Association (School Psychology Division), John Hintze, student development and pupil personnel services.
· Honorary Doctorate, Lesley College, Sonia Nieto, teacher education and curriculum studies.
· Honorary doctorate, UMass Amherst, Vladimir Haensel, chemical engineering emeritus.
· $200,000 NSF CAREER grant, Dennis Goeckel, electrical engineering.
FOOD AND NATURAL RESOURCES
· Inductee, Association Internationale Nicholas Appert; Chair, Food and Nutrition Board Food Forum, National Academy of Sciences Institute of Medicine; Fergus Clydesdale, food science.
· Inductee, Association Internationale Nicholas Appert, Jack Francis, food science emeritus.
· University of Massachusetts Public Service Award, Ann Forsyth, Patricia McGirr, and Henry Lu, landscape architecture and regional planning.
· Distinguished University Professor, Derek Lovley, microbiology.
· American Institute of Certified Planners, John Mullin, landscape architecture and regional
· Foundation for Microbiology Lectures, American Society for Microbiology, Susan Leschine,
· Honorary doctorate, University of Massachusetts, Ervin Zube, landscape architecture and regional planning emeritus.
HUMANITIES AND FINE ARTS
· Winner in "Device and Improvisation" Category, Bourges International Electroacoustic Competition, Charles Bestor, music emeritus.
· Alan Paton Award for Non-Fiction, Johannesburg, South Africa, Sunday Times, Stephen Clingman, English.
· Outstanding Academic Advising Award; Certificate of Merit, National Academic Advising Association; Joyce Grabon, history.
· President-elect, International Association of Jazz Educators; director, Fine Arts Center; Willie Hill Jr., music.
· 1999-2000 Distinguished Faculty Lecturer,
Robert Sleigh Jr., philosophy.
· Distinguished Scholar Lecturer, Gratz College, David Wyman, history emeritus.
ISENBERG SCHOOL OF MANAGEMENT
· 1999-2000 Distinguished Faculty Lecturer, Anna Nagurney, finance and operations management.
· Commonwealth of Massachusetts Deferred Compensation Oversight Committee, Thomas O'Brien, dean.
NATURAL SCIENCES AND
· Conference dedication, Second Annual Conference on Current Research in Operational Quantum Logic, Free University of Brussels, David Foulis, mathematics and statistics emeritus.
· 1999-2000 Distinguished Faculty Lecturer, Lila Gierasch, chemistry.
· $168,614 NSF grant, Julie Graham,
· Proctor Prize for Scientific Achievement, Sigma Xi Society, Lynn Margulis, geosciences.
· National Advisory Council on Nurse Education and Practice, U. S. Health Resources and Services Administration, Eileen Breslin, dean.
· Copeland Award for Excellence in Creativity, Sigma Theta Tau honor society, Jeanine Young-Mason.
PUBLIC HEALTH AND HEALTH
· $460,000 USAID grant, John Cunningham,
· President, New England Chapter of the American College of Sports Medicine; Member-at-Large, American Academy of Kinesiology and Physical Education; Patty Freedson, exercise science.
· President, New England Public Health Association, Jesse Ortiz, environmental health sciences.
SOCIAL AND BEHAVIORAL SCIENCES
· Editorial Board, German Politics and Society, Gerard Braunthal, political science emeritus.
· 1999-2000 Distinguished Faculty Lecturer, Ervin Staub, psychology.
· U.S. Representative to ICANN (Independent Review Advisory Committee of the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers), Ethan Katsh, legal studies.
· $150,000 grant, William and Flora Hewlett Foundation, Mary Deane Sorcinelli, associate provost and director of the Center For Teaching.