Mid-Shore Education: A Chat with Washington College’s New President Kurt Landgraf

New Washington College President Kurt Landgraf had been in office not quite two weeks when the Spy staff dropped into his Bunting Hall office for an interview on July 13. In a wide-ranging conversation, Landgraf was frank and ready to ask questions of his own, a good sign that he will be open to give-and-take with other stakeholders in the college community.

As the interview begins, he is answering a question about what attracted him to Washington College. Later, he responds to a question about a recent poll result showing that some 60 percent of Republicans believe that a college education is not good for society. Landgraf disagreed strongly and went on to to express his belief that the liberal arts curriculum helps provide a good foundation for citizenship in a democracy. Click on the picture above to see the video, which runs just over seven minutes.

The new president began with a brief autobiography, not included in the video. He was born in Newark and raised in Rahway, both in New Jersey. He attended Wagner College on an athletic scholarship and played baseball with the Reading Phillies for a while before joining the U.S. Navy during the Vietnam war. After the service, he had a number of jobs, including a short stint at ETS, the Educational Testing Service, before ending up at DuPont, where he spent a major part of his career, overseeing divisions both in the US and abroad.

He worked in the pharmaceutical division and noted that the opioid antagonist drug Narcan was developed during his time there. He spent ten years as head of the European division of DuPont, and was under consideration to become CEO of the entire company. When that position went to someone else, Landgraf was recruited by Educational Testing Services, which at the time was on the verge of liquidation. He turned the company around, stayed there 13 years, and became very interested in education. During that time, he became chairman of the New Jersey Higher Education Commission, which oversees all colleges in the state. Then in 2015, he was contacted about the Washington College presidency.

After the initial phases of the search process, Landgraf was one of the finalists for the WC job — which eventually went to Sheila Bair. When he was on campus for interviews, he said, he asked one young student what was the most important thing he had learned at the school. “Moral courage,” said the student. Landgraf was so impressed that a young person could cite that quality that he decided on the spot that, if he was offered the job, he would take it. That opportunity came this June, when Bair tendered her resignation.

Asked the difference between his former position as a CEO at DuPont and his new one, Landgraf said that a CEO has nearly absolute power in decision-making, whereas a college president is in a position of co-governance with the board. On the other hand, he said, all institutions “are made up of the same kind of mammal;” with human nature the constant.

Washington College has substantial assets that offer high value to prospective students, he said. He cited the waterfront campus, which is currently under development, the Rose O’Neill Literary House, with its strong program of readings and publications; and the Douglass Cater Society, which supports undergraduate students in self-directed research projects all over the world. He plans to continue and, where possible, expand these programs and their impact. Landgraf said the college needs to market these assets to reach its full potential.  These are wonderful programs, offering outstanding opportunities for students and most people

Landgraf is also aware of the college’s relationship with the town of Chestertown. He has already met with Mayor Chris Cerino, he said, and he is planning to attend the town council meeting July 17 to introduce himself. He said he isn’t concerned with past relations between the two entities; “We need to go forward,” he said. He said he plans to work with the Save the Hospital group, to get involved with United Way of Kent County.  It is very important, he said, for the town and the college to support one another.

In explaining the value of a college education in today’s society, Landgraf said that the U.S. depends on three pillars: capitalism, the rule of law and democracy. An educated populace is needed for each of these to carry its weight. A liberal arts education, while it may not appear to prepare students for specific roles in the workforce, is the best preparation for citizenship in general, he said.

It will be interesting to see how Landgraf’s presidency develops. As one college staff member observed, there have been four presidents in five years, with significant turnover in senior staff. The college can obviously benefit from a period of stability, and given Landgraf’s comments on the need to work with the board and his interest in making the college and the town closer than they have been, friends of the college may be encouraged to hope that this is the beginning of a time of stability and regeneration.

Impressive Outcomes for TCPS Class of 2017

Both Easton High and Saint Michaels Middle High schools have reported outstanding results for the class of 2017.  Of the combined total of 320 students receiving diplomas and certificates, 276 or 87.1% plan to enter college.  While 145 graduates plan to attend a four-year college, 131 will attend a two-year college or technical school. Eight graduates will enter the military, and 36 will enter directly into the workforce.

Dr. Kelly Griffith enjoying the moment with some of the members of Easton High’s class of 2017.

“I am extremely proud of the accomplishments of the class of 2017, and I am confident that they will do great things during the next chapter of their life,” said Dr. Kelly Griffith, TCPS Superintendent. “Their success is a testament to their hard work as well as the talented, dedicated TCPS educators and personnel.”

Of the 320 TCPS Class of 2017 graduates,
• 176 (55%) completed at least one Advanced Placement Course before graduating (an increase of 4% from 2016);
• 162 earned credit for at least one dual enrollment course at the community college level (an increase of 19% from 2016);
• 139 seniors fulfilled requirements for at least one Career and Technology Education program (a decrease of 6% from 2016); and
• The composite SAT score was 1080 for math and critical reading (an increase of 52 points from 2016), while the ACT composite average remained at 23.

Members of the Saint Michaels Middle High School class of 2017.

A total of 198 graduates were offered at least one scholarship. A record high amount of $11,996,067 was earned by TCPS students.  The list of colleges and universities to which TCPS students were accepted is equally impressive, and includes three acceptances to Ivy League Schools.  The complete list is as follows:

Albright College
Allegheny College
American College of the Building Arts
American University
Anne Arundel Community College
Appalachian State University
Apprentice School of Northrop Grumman-Newport News
Augustana College
Baldwin Wallace University
Belmont University
Beloit College
Berklee College of Music
Bloomsburg University of Pennsylvania
Boston College
Boston Conservatory at Berklee
Boston University
Bowie State University
Bridgewater College
Brigham Young University
Brigham Young University-Hawaii
Brigham Young University-Idaho
Brooklyn College of the CUNY
Brown University
Cabrini University
California Institute of Technology
California Polytechnic State University, San Luis Obispo
California University of Pennsylvania
Capitol Technology University
Carnegie Mellon University
Centenary University
Chesapeake College
Christopher Newport University
Clark Atlanta University
Clarke University
Clemson University
Coastal Carolina University
College of Charleston
College of William and Mary
Colorado School of Mines
Colorado State University
Columbia College
Columbia College in Chicago
Columbia University
Community College of Baltimore County
Coppin State University
Cornell University
Davis & Elkins College
Delaware College of Art and Design
Delaware State University
Delaware Technical & Community College – Owens Campus
Delaware Valley University
Dickinson College
Drexel University
East Carolina University
East Stroudsburg University of Pennsylvania
Edinboro University of Pennsylvania
Elizabeth City State University
Elizabethtown College
Emory & Henry College
Empire Beauty School
Fashion Institute of Design and Merchandising, Los Angeles
Flagler College
Florida Atlantic University
Florida Gulf Coast University
Florida Institute of Technology
Florida International University
Florida Southern College
Florida State University
Fordham University
Frostburg State University
Gallaudet University
George Mason University
Georgia Institute of Technology
Georgia State University
Gonzaga University
Goucher College
Great Falls College – Montana State University
Hamilton College
Hampden-Sydney College
Hampton University
Haverford College
High Point University
Hofstra University
Hood College
Howard University
Hudson Valley Community College
Humboldt State University
Hunter College of the CUNY
Jacksonville University
James Madison University
Johnson & Wales University (Providence)
Kent State University
La Salle University
Lafayette College
Lancaster Bible College
Lehigh University
Liberty University
Longwood University
Loyola Marymount University
Loyola University Maryland
Lynchburg College
Manhattan College
Marist College
Marshall University
Maryland Institute College of Art
Marymount Manhattan College
Marymount University
Marywood University
Massachusetts College of Art and Design
Massachusetts Institute of Technology
McDaniel College
McGill University
Meredith College
Messiah College
Miami University, Oxford
Millersville University of Pennsylvania
Mississippi State University
Monmouth University
Monroe Community College
Montana State University, Bozeman
Moravian College
Morgan State University
Mount St. Mary’s University
New Jersey City University
New York University
Norfolk State University
North Carolina A&T State University
North Carolina State University
North Dakota State University
Northeastern University
Notre Dame of Maryland University
Nova South Eastern University
Ohio Wesleyan University
Ohio State University
Old Dominion University
Pace University, New York City
Palm Beach Atlantic University
Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts
Pennsylvania State University
Pratt Institute
Purdue University
Queens University of Charlotte
Radford University
Randolph-Macon College
Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute
Roanoke College
Rochester Institute of Technology
Rosemont College
Rutgers University-New Brunswick
Saint Francis University
Saint Joseph’s University
Saint Louis University
Salisbury University
Savannah College of Art and Design
School of the Art Institute of Chicago
School of Visual Arts
Sewanee: The University of the South
Shenandoah University
Shepherd University
Shippensburg University of Pennsylvania
Siena College
St. Mary’s College of Maryland
Stanford University
Stevenson University
Stockton University
Stony Brook University
SUNY Oswego
Susquehanna University
Syracuse University
Temple University
Texas A&M University
The Art Institute of Fort Lauderdale
The Cooper Union for the Advancement of Science & Art (School of Arts)
The George Washington University
The New School – All Divisions
The New School – All Divisions (Parsons School of Design)
The University of the Arts
Towson University
Trinity College
Trinity University
Union College (New York)
University of Alabama
University of Arizona
University of California
University of Cincinnati
University of Cincinnati College-Conservatory of Music
University of Connecticut
University of Dayton
University of Delaware
University of Delaware (Honors Program)
University of Florida
University of Hartford
University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
University of Kentucky
University of Mary Washington
University of Maryland, Baltimore County
University of Maryland, College Park
University of Maryland, Eastern Shore
University of Massachusetts, Boston
University of Miami (College of Arts & Sciences)
University of Michigan
University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
University of North Carolina at Charlotte
University of North Carolina at Wilmington
University of North Dakota
University of Northern Colorado
University of Pittsburgh
University of Roehampton
University of Scranton
University of South Carolina
University of South Florida, Tampa
University of Tampa
University of Tennessee, Knoxville
University of Texas, Austin
University of the Sciences in Philadelphia
University of Virginia (College of Arts & Sciences)
University of Washington
University of Washington
Villanova University
Virginia Commonwealth University
Virginia Commonwealth University (School of the Arts)
Virginia Tech
Wake Forest University
Washington and Jefferson College
Washington and Lee University
Washington College
Washington State University
Wells College
Wesley College
Wesleyan University
West Chester University of Pennsylvania
West Virginia University
West Virginia Wesleyan College
Western Carolina University
Wilson College
Wingate University
Worcester Polytechnic Institute
WorWic Community College
York College of Pennsylvania

Washington College Names Kurt M. Landgraf as Next President

CHESTERTOWN—The Washington College Board of Visitors and Governors today announced the appointment of Kurt M. Landgraf as the next President of the college. President-elect Landgraf, who was determined to be an exceptional and highly qualified candidate during the Board’s most recent national search in 2015, will begin his tenure July 1.

Kurt M. Landgraf – New President of Washington College

“Throughout his remarkable career, Kurt Landgraf has set himself apart from his peers as an exceptional leader and an exemplar of the values we seek to instill in our students, faculty, and community here at Washington College,” said Board Chair H. Lawrence Culp, Jr. “We believe his collaborative leadership style, his ability to craft ambitious and integrated strategies, and his operational experience will be an asset to Washington College.

“We are thrilled that such an exceptional candidate was available to lead our College in support of the groundbreaking work of our students and faculty,” Culp continued.

“I am deeply honored by the opportunity to join the Washington College community, and to continue the work of my predecessors in providing students with the best possible education,” said Landgraf. “To join the ranks of this storied and historic institution is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity, and I’m certain that by working with the faculty, staff, student body, and board, as well as others in the community, we will be able to accomplish extraordinary things. And while new leadership always brings change, rest assured that President Sheila Bair’s exceptional work to address the national student debt crisis and to launch a comprehensive campaign will not only continue, but I hope will be energized and invigorated.”

Landgraf is well known to both the Washington College Board of Visitors and Governors and the most recent presidential search committee. In 2015, that search committee— proportionally comprised of faculty, senior staff, and board members—began its national search for a new president, considering nearly 400 candidates and seriously vetting nearly 60 contenders. During that process, Landgraf proved himself to be an outstanding candidate.

Landgraf comes to Washington College with a decades-long résumé as a senior executive with DuPont (including serving as Chief Operating Officer, Chief Financial Officer, Chairman of DuPont Europe Middle East and Africa, Chairman and CEO of DuPont Pharmaceutical Company and CEO of DuPont Merck Company), and a 13-year tenure as President and CEO of ETS, one of the world’s leading providers of measurement programs and evaluations for schools, including both the K-12 and higher education communities.

Currently, Landgraf serves as a member of the boards of directors for Corning Incorporated and the Louisiana-Pacific Corporation. He has also served as President of the National Consortium for Graduate Degrees for Minorities in Engineering and Science, and was nominated, confirmed, and served as Vice Chairman of the Higher Education Commission for the State of New Jersey, the state’s governing body for higher education institutions.

“Kurt Landgraf’s vision of cooperative co-governance will be a strong foundation from which to work together as a campus, and he has already shown a willingness to embrace the Washington College strategic plan. I’m certain his leadership will lend our campus and community essential guidance, and assist us in every facet of operations, from helping fight the national student debt crisis, to accomplishing our unprecedented fundraising goals as part of our Forge a Legacy campaign,” said Jonathan McCollum, Chair of the Washington College Faculty Council and Chair of the Department of Music. “It is a pleasure to welcome President-elect Landgraf to campus, and I look forward to working with him to continue instilling in our students the core values of Washington College: critical thinking, effective communication and deep, abiding moral courage.”

“Kurt is an exceptional leader who has an impressive record of success in higher education and the corporate world. At ETS, he did a remarkable job advancing its social mission, reimagining the future of the organization, and building a strong organization and culture,” said Robert Murley, who served as Chair of the ETS Board of Directors for four years during President Landgraf’s tenure as CEO, and who has been an ETS board member for nearly 18 years. “As a result of his leadership and his commitment to diversity and to ensuring fairness and equity in assessment, promising students have been able to realize their dreams to attend college and graduate school regardless of their financial circumstances. Washington College is fortunate to have him as its next president.”

About Washington College

Founded in 1782, Washington College is the tenth oldest college in the nation and the first chartered under the new Republic. It enrolls approximately 1,450 undergraduates from more than 35 states and a dozen nations. With an emphasis on hands-on, experiential learning in the arts and sciences, and more than 40 multidisciplinary areas of study, the College is home to nationally recognized academic centers in the environment, history, and writing. Learn more at washcoll.edu.

 

Washington College Transition: Bair Resigns

The Washington College Board of Visitors and Governors today announced the resignation of President Sheila Bair.

“We are grateful to have had the opportunity to work with President Bair for these past two years, and wish her all the best in her future endeavors,” said Board Chair H. Lawrence Culp, Jr. “Her work on behalf of both this institution, and the nation’s undergraduate population as a whole, to diminish our national student debt crisis has been remarkable, and we both thank and commend President Bair for her dedication to improving access to high-quality education for all students.”

“It was my privilege and pleasure to serve as President of this historic college, and my time here is an experience I will treasure for the rest of my career and life,” said President Bair. “Being a part of an institution co-founded by our nation’s own Founding Father, George Washington, will be impossible to match, and I thank the students, faculty, staff, and Board of Visitors and Governors for their support these past two years, particularly for our access and affordability initiatives. Unfortunately, this job has required that I be away from my family quite a bit, and I underestimated the hardship that would create when I took up leadership of the college. I regret that I am not able to serve my full five-year term, but in many ways, thanks to the dedicated efforts of our hardworking campus community, we accomplished in two years what would have required five at other institutions.”

President Bair came to Washington College after serving as Chair of the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation from 2006 to 2011, where she played a key role in stabilizing the banking system during the financial crisis. She was officially appointed in May 2015, and served as the institution’s first female president in its 234-year history.

A native of Independence, Kansas, Bair earned a bachelor’s degree in philosophy at the University of Kansas in 1974 and a law degree from the University of Kansas School of Law in 1978. She began her career in public service as an aide to Kansas senator Bob Dole and later served as a commissioner of the Commodity Futures Trading Commission, a senior vice president for government relations at the New York Stock Exchange, and Assistant Secretary for Financial Institutions at the U.S. Department of the Treasury. For four years, she was the Dean’s Professor of Financial Regulatory Policy for the Isenberg School of Management at the University of Massachusetts-Amherst.

Appointed to lead the FDIC by President George W. Bush in 2006, Bair was recognized for sound fiscal management and for raising employee morale. She was one of the first officials to warn about the damage the growing subprime mortgage crisis would pose to millions of homeowners and the economy at large. Consumer advocates praised her relentless efforts to represent the interests of homeowners, bank customers and taxpayers. She helped shape and implement the Dodd-Frank Act, which gave the FDIC expanded power to “wind down” rather than bail out a failing bank, and created the Advisory Committee on Economic Inclusion in an effort to bring banking services to underserved populations.

Bair chronicled her five years at the FDIC in Bull by the Horns: Fighting to Save Main Street from Wall Street and Wall Street from Itself, a New York Times bestseller published in September 2012. A prolific writer, she has been a regular contributor to Fortune and has written three books for children that offer lessons in financial literacy.

During her presidency at the college, she pioneered several student debt reduction programs, including a program to match scholarship dollars to every dollar spent out of a family’s 529 or Education Savings Account, and George’s Brigade, offering full scholarships to highly qualified, low-income students. In addition, she ushered in Fixedfor4, a tuition plan that guarantees entering students that their tuition will not go up during their four years at the College, bringing certainty to one of the largest expenditures a family makes.

Launched in the fall of 2016, the Brigade saw 14 first-generation students complete their freshmen year. Twenty new George’s Brigade scholars are expected to matriculate in the fall. Another affordability initiative, Dam the Debt, is a “back-end” scholarship that helps pay off the federal loans of graduating seniors. Since its inception, Washington College has dispersed a total of $659,000 to graduating seniors, reducing their overall debt by over 10 percent.

The College expects to continue the efforts that began under Bair’s leadership. Her contributions to the improvements in diversity, retention, advancement, and alumni participation are greatly appreciated, as is the contribution she made to help raise the public profile of the College

President Bair’s resignation will be effective June 30.

Profiles in Education: The Country School with Neil Mufson

Country School headmaster Neil Mufson, with a 27-year tenure in that position, has approximately 17 more years to go before he matches the record of his predecessor, headmistress Dorothy Startt, in running the kindergarten to eighth-grade private school in Easton. And while he is never indicated this has been his goal, he did from the very beginning of his appointment want to continue and maintain the high standards that Ms. Startt instilled in the small preparatory school where the relationship between student and teacher, as well as younger student and older student, continues to be one of the primary values and mission of the Country School.

Starting 82 years ago, the Country School, and the parents that founded it, took inspiration from another school in Maryland, the Calvert School in Baltimore, as a model for their new undertaking in Talbot County. And while the relationship between the schools was never a formal one, there remains a strong legacy that encourages small classes, individual attention, and an appropriate level of challenge for each of its students.

The Spy spent some time talking to Neil not only the history of the Country School but how it is now preparing its students for a complicated world as they graduate and move into high school and beyond.

This video is approximately five minutes in length. For more information about the Country School please go here.

Remarks: Secretary of the Smithsonian Institution David Skorton at Chesapeake College

Editor’s Note: Dr. David Skorton, Secretary of the Smithsonian Institution, gave the commencement address in Wye Mills yesterday.  We have reprinted his remarks in their entirety.
Thank you for that introduction, Dr. Viniar (Barbara). I’m not surprised that you’ve been such a successful and innovative leader here at Chesapeake College, given your earlier successes, including your excellent track record leading the Institute for Community College Development when we were colleagues at Cornell. Thanks for inviting me to be here today.

It’s my pleasure to be here on Maryland’s Eastern Shore for this auspicious occasion. Go Skipjacks!

And let me share one of many congratulations to the 2017 graduating class! Well done!

As I thought about what I wanted to share with you and your families and friends today, the state of the world brought to mind a particularly relevant phrase: “May you live in interesting times.”

Supposedly a Chinese curse, there’s no evidence it is actually a curse, nor that it’s Chinese. Perhaps we can think of it as an early example of fake news.

If you are predisposed to thinking of our interesting times as a curse, you would certainly have justification to do so. This graduating class will have to contend with the effects of climate change. You will face a job market which is likely to become increasingly uncertain because of the proliferation of automation. And we are all living through a hyper-partisan era in which our elected officials seem less likely than ever to seek common ground to find solutions.

Given the realities on the ground, it is all too easy to become discouraged if not cynical.

However, I think these really are interesting times in the truest sense of the word. They hold great promise for the future. We have a tremendous opportunity in front of us, if only each of us and all of us grab hold of it.

I believe that wholeheartedly, because when things have been at their bleakest—wars, depressions, existential crises—the American people have always found a way to persevere and thrive. And I believe that we can and will do this again.

Despite your achievement today, it is understandable that you may feel somewhat anxious about your future or even be unsure what you want to do next. But the fact that you’ve taken on this challenge shows you have the fortitude to be successful in life. It’s true whether you arrived fresh out of high school or came later to continue your education; whether your next destination is the workforce or a four-year school.

So, before you feel the urge to rush out and prove my optimism right—or at least to get out of these robes and celebrate somewhere—I’d like to tell you why I feel so good about our collective future.

As the Secretary of the Smithsonian, I get to see what smart, dedicated people do every day. Not just the 6500 employees who work for us, but also the 6300 volunteers who work at our 19 museums, nine research centers, and the National Zoo.

In many ways, museums, like institutions of higher learning, are going through a massive transformation. Much of that is due to the pervasive influence of technology, from interactivity to communication to outreach. Perhaps the most obvious example of this is the explosion of connectivity brought about by the internet and the ubiquity of smartphones.

Author Clay Shirky has written extensively about the kinds of active and engaged networks of people that social media can enable. In a TED talk, he called our internet-connected age, “the largest increase in expressive capability in human history.”

I see a lot of that expressiveness from the Smithsonian’s digital volunteers. Outnumbering our on-site volunteers, this army of 8700 people around the world transcribes Smithsonian documents and data online. They are critically important to our mammoth effort to digitize much of our collection of 154 million objects. In this way, technology is helping us reach people globally with our collections. But it is also enabling the people who help us to do so.

The power of social media also becomes obvious when groups pool their money to accomplish goals that don’t receive enough funding through traditional means. This crowdfunding can take the form of philanthropy like the viral “ice bucket challenge” that raised 100 million dollars in a month for Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis—ALS or Lou Gehrig’s disease. That money led directly to researchers identifying a gene associated with the disease, a breakthrough that could lead to new treatments.

The Smithsonian has also been the beneficiary of people’s collective generosity. The National Air and Space Museum had a successful Kickstarter campaign to preserve the spacesuit that Neil Armstrong wore during his historic Apollo 11 mission to the moon.

Technology is also increasingly giving hope to the underserved around the world. In developing nations, solar power, microloans, and clean water are lifelines to modernity.

Bringing technology to underserved populations has made huge differences in people’s ability to care for, educate, and feed their families. For instance, between 2011 and 2014, the explosion in mobile technology in developing nations led to a twenty percent drop in people who didn’t have bank accounts. This is a crucial development since, as World Bank

Group President Jim Yong Kim said in 2015, “Access to financial services can serve as a bridge out of poverty.”

The tools of the digital age also allow people from a large variety of backgrounds to engage in what has become known as “citizen science,” collecting data on a massive scale and giving the naturally curious the ability to experience first-hand the scientific method. One such program that our Smithsonian Conservation Biology Institute takes part in is the

Global Amphibian BioBlitz. Its aim is to observe one of every amphibian in the world and create a database to study and protect them. So far, more than 16,000 amateur herpetologists have participated.

My outlook continues to be optimistic because so many of these technologies are being deployed by people for the benefit of their fellow human beings. Technology is a powerful tool, but ultimately it is only as important and effective as the people who wield it. The collective power of people to do good is so frequently underappreciated. Working toward a common goal, people can topple dictators, help cure disease, and change the course of history.

Making our individual voices heard is still one of the most powerful aspects of the United States. That truth is at the heart of our democracy. It is why people from around the world still aspire to the American Dream. I’ve had the good fortune to meet many of them at our National Museum of American History, where each year many people from distant shores come to be sworn in as new citizens in naturalization ceremonies. As someone whose father was a Russian immigrant and a naturalized citizen, the annual event is always a moving experience for me. I challenge anyone who meets these people and hears their stories of how they got here to question their patriotism. Seeing America through their eyes is to truly appreciate the ideals this nation embodies.

Immigration has always been important for the diversity it has brought to our nation. When people talk about diversity, they usually mean ethnicity, gender, or background. That is certainly important, for what is the American Dream but the notion that all have an equal opportunity to succeed? Thankfully, younger generations are already on board with a more diverse society.

But just as critical for the dynamism and innovation that drives the U.S. is a type of diversity that author Scott Page identifies in his book, “The Difference: How the Power of Diversity Creates Better Groups, Firms, Schools, and Societies.”

He addresses the value of “cognitive diversity”—the differences in how people think. Everyone sees the world a bit differently, everyone has different strengths, and these different perspectives facilitate problem-solving.

In fact, his research showed that the most diverse groups consistently outperformed the most talented groups.

And here is another reason for you to be optimistic today: education is still the greatest predictor of earnings in the workforce.

According to the Department of Education, college graduates with a bachelor’s degree typically earn 66 percent more than high school graduates. Over the course of a lifetime, that translates into a 1-million-dollar gap between a high school diploma and a bachelor’s degree. And in three years, approximately two-thirds of job openings will require postsecondary education or training, including associate’s degrees.

Colleges like Chesapeake play a critical role for their students, their communities and the country. That is why I have for decades admired and worked closely with colleagues in community colleges in Iowa, New York State, and beyond.

According to the National Center for Education Statistics, associate’s degrees awarded increased from 634,000 to more than 1 million from the 2002 school year to the 2012 school year, a jump of 59%, more than the rate that bachelor’s degrees rose.

And an associate’s degree provides tremendous value. The College Board’s Annual Survey of Colleges found that the average 2016 tuition of a community college is about a third of a 4-year in-state public school. And it’s about a tenth of a 4-year private university.

Even more impressive is the value an associate’s degree can provide once you hit the workforce. According to Georgetown University’s Center on Education and the Workplace, about 30% of Americans with associate’s degrees earn more than those with bachelor’s degrees.

It is why there is a push to make community colleges free of charge, as the state of Tennessee recently did for all adults without a college degree or certificate.

Another encouraging and quite important aspect of community colleges is their forward-looking devotion to a robust emphasis on the liberal arts. According to the American Academy of Arts and Sciences’ Humanities Indicator Project, the share of humanities-focused associates’ degrees grew from 25.8 percent in 1987 to 38.9 percent in 2013.

The liberal arts are a big part of the curriculum and culture at Chesapeake College, which I think is so important today. You know that the arts and culture enrich individuals and communities intrinsically and practically. That understanding is reflected in the college’s vision, “to prepare students as independent learners who are intellectually competent, technologically proficient, and who share the responsibilities and privileges of global citizenship.”

Those are the very skills that the arts, humanities, and social sciences help provide. They improve our ability to think critically, analyze, synthesize, and communicate. They provide a historical and cultural perspective. All of which can benefit scientists, society, and employers, so I know that you are prepared for the next phases of your lives, no matter what comes your way.

This past Earth Day, I stood on a stage not too different from this, looking at a large gathering of scientists, environmentalists, thought leaders, and students not too different from you.

They were there as part of the Smithsonian’s first Earth Optimism Summit, a conference of people working on one of our most critical challenges, the environment.
If there is something that should be daunting, it’s the state of our planet. Increased floods and droughts, dwindling natural resources, increased opportunity for pandemic disease—all seem like intractable problems with no easy solutions.

But the people who work on these very real problems weren’t intimidated. They were engaged. They were energized. And, yes, they were optimistic. They knew that nearly every problem has a solution, that every challenge is also an opportunity.

As I looked over that crowd, I was encouraged and hopeful, just as I am standing here today.

So, before I leave you today, as a long-time educator I would like to give you one last assignment in a few parts.

First, imagine the world as you would like it to look in five years. Ten years. Then figure out how to get there.

Second, don’t let life’s inevitable challenges dissuade you from making a difference. Author Dr. Angela Duckworth has written about “grit,” the perseverance and passion toward achieving one’s goals, that her research shows is more essential to success than talent. You need to be possessed of that if you want to go as far as you can.

Third, be adaptable. Life is likely to throw several curveballs at you, for good and bad. Having agility of mind and spirit will allow you to roll with the punches and come out ahead.

Finally, and most importantly, don’t become cynical.

 

Talbot County High Schools Listed Nationally as “Most Challenging”

The Washington Post’s Education Columnist Jay Matthews has released his annual ranking of America’s Most Challenging Schools reflecting how well the nation’s top high schools challenge their students. Easton High School is ranked #1471 in the nation, and Saint Michaels High is #2245!

U.S. Department of Education statistics indicate that there are 26,407 public secondary schools and 10,693 private secondary schools across the United States. This means both Talbot County high schools fall in the top 6% of all high schools in the nation according to this ranking.

The ranking is determined through an index formula that’s a simple ratio: the number of Advanced Placement, International Baccalaureate and/or Advanced International Certificate of Education tests given at a school each year, divided by the number of seniors who graduated that year. According to Mr. Matthews, only about 12 percent of U.S. high schools qualify to be ranked.

“This is a tremendous accomplishment for both of our high schools,” said Dr. Helga Einhorn, Assistant Superintendent for Instruction, “ and a direct result of the commitment of our district to give all of our students the opportunity to experience the rigor of college level courses before they graduate.”

Washington College Journalist Wins Kerr Prize

Catalina Righter has won the 2017 Sophie Kerr Prize at Washington College. This year marks the 50th anniversary of the award.

Catalina Righter – winner of 2017 Sophie Kerr Prize at Washington College in Chestertown, MD

Righter is an English major from Manchester, Md., who served as editor-in-chief of the Elm, the student newspaper. Her portfolio combined journalism, a travel essay on New Orleans, and a selection of her poetry.

In addition to editing the student newspaper, Righter was a poetry screener for Cherry Tree, the national literary journal published by the Literary House Press. She is a member of Phi Beta Kappa, the Douglas Cater Society of Junior Fellows, Sigma Tau Delta (the English honor society), and was active in the sailing and dance clubs. After graduation, she plans to look for a newspaper job, she said in an interview with the Spy when she was chosen as a finalist.

Poet Elizabeth Spires announced the award Friday night at a ceremony marking the 50th anniversary of the nation’s largest undergraduate writing award, this year valued at $65,768. The cash award totals more than the Pulitzer Prize, the National Book Award and the Penn Faulkner prize combined, according to Professor Kathryn Moncrief, Chair of the English department and Sophie Kerr Curator.

Accepting the award, Righter thanked her family, saying that “that my most true and unwavering sense of self comes from you.” She also thanked her teachers, and her friends and fellow writers, “especially anyone who has trusted me to read a piece of that work.” Finally, she said,  “Thank you for anyone who came today because you love someone enough to tell them to continue to write.”

Catalina Righter rises to accept award as finalists Allison Billmire, Ryan Manning and James P. Mitchell, and Washington College president Sheila Bair applaud.

“Catalina has an eye for finding the extraordinary in the ordinary. She brings to bear on her poems a reporter’s objectivity and a journalist’s sense of what makes a story both memorable and beautiful,” said James Hall, Director of the Rose O’Neill Literary House.

“Catalina’s writing evinces her remarkable ability to capture both the outrageous and the mundane, and to find surprising humor and beauty in both,” said Moncrief.

The ceremony, which drew a large crowd to the college’s Hotchkiss Recital Hall, showcased the five finalists reading from their work, which covered a range from poetry to political commentary.  (See more photos below article.)

Catalina Righter accepts Sophie Kerr Prize. Poet Elizabeth Spires looks on.

Spires, a faculty member at Goucher College, began her teaching career at Washington College in 1981. In a speech preceding the announcement, she reminisced about her days at the college, with memories of fellow faculty members Bob Day and Bennett Lamond, and offered advice to the finalists. Among her tips were learning from rejection slips and resisting the temptation to lose themselves in the online world.

The Sophie Kerr award is named for a popular writer of the early 20th century, Eastern Shore native Sophie Kerr, who published 23 novels, hundreds of short stories, and even a cookbook. When she died at 85 years old, she bequeathed the College a half-million-dollar trust fund, stipulating that half of the annual earnings go to a graduating senior who shows the most promise for future literary endeavor. The other half funds student scholarships, visiting writers and scholars, and library books.

Catalina with friends at reception after presentation.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

EHS Students Discuss the Civil Rights Movement With People Who Lived It

Ms. Vicky Wilson, Student Services Case Manager, Mrs. Pam Clay, TCPS Career and Technology Supervisor, and OS1 James Gardner.

Easton High School students discussed Civil Rights and racism in a recent U.S. History class.  Ms. Vicky Wilson, Student Services Case Manager, Mrs. Pam Clay, TCPS Career and Technology Supervisor, and OS1 James Gardner discussed their views on racism and the Civil Rights Movement with students in Mr. McLaughlin’s US History class. Vicky Wilson and Pam Clay lived through the Civil Rights movement on the Eastern Shore.  They described their lives during the 1960’s and their experiences growing up in their respective school systems. OS1 Gardner shared from the perspective of a member of the U.S. military and current teacher in the Navy Junior ROTC program.

Mr. McLaughlin organized the discussion for his students to help illustrate that the study and understanding of history is not limited to classroom lectures and reading old books.  During the discussion, students and educators described their own experiences with racism and how the county and country have changed over time.  Students were open with their experiences and the discussion flourished, creating a shared narrative on race and culture in Talbot County.

Mid-Shore Arts: Chesapeake College’s Rob Thompson on a Career Path in the Arts

When one thinks about a local community college, there is an immediate thought of such things as vocational training or preparatory work before entering a four-year college, but rarely thinking that young people should attend these institutions if they are considering a career in the arts. Chesapeake College once again challenges that assumption.

In fact, just in the field of the dramatic arts, approximately twenty-five students each year head to the Wye Mills campus as their first step in breaking into the competitive world of performing arts. Or, put another way, about the same number the College seeks for its new agricultural degree program.

That is one of the reasons that the Spy sought out a conversation with Dr. Robert Thompson who heads up the theatre/humanities program at Chesapeake College. And one of the take away messages of this short chat was the clear evidence that students can indeed find a pathway to a career in the arts.

This video is approximately four minutes in length. For more information about Chesapeake College and its theatre program please go here.