Seasons’ greetings from the Ernest L. Boyer Center at Messiah College! We hope you and yours enjoy a warm, restful and relaxing holiday, and a happy new year.
Editor’s Note: “Scholarship Spotlight” is semi-regular series of posts on Service Fulfilled. The goal of these posts is to highlight scholarly projects that utilize (in part or fully) the resources of the Boyer Center Archives, particularly the digital collection.
Anyone who’s ever spent time working in American higher education has certainly encountered the concept of scholarship. Academics, in many colleges and universities, do more than just teach courses — they also produce new knowledge, a process often called scholarship.
And perhaps one of the most influential studies of scholarship in American higher education comes from a familiar face around this blog: Ernie Boyer. In 1990, while serving as president of the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching, Boyer published Scholarship Reconsidered, a bold, groundbreaking treatise introducing an academic model that expanded the traditional definition of scholarship and research into four types.
Twenty-five years later, three recognized scholars of American higher education — John Branson (Vanderbilt University) and Todd Ream and Drew Moser (Taylor University) — have highlighted Boyer’s singular contributions to our understanding of scholarship with an anniversary edition of Scholarship Reconsidered.
The expanded edition of Scholarship Reconsidered is now available from Jossey-Bass Publishers. And in recognition of its release, the latest issue of Advance — the magazine of the Council for Christian Colleges and Universities — has published a conversation with one of the book’s editors, Dr. Drew Moser, and Boyer Center director Dr. Cynthia A. Wells. In the interview, Moser and Wells discuss the impact of Scholarship Reconsidered on higher education in general and Christian higher education in particular. Moser also highlights the Boyer Center Archives as “an important resource not only to Boyer scholars but more broadly to American higher education”!
Check out the interview (pp. 29-32) here!
Today’s Photo Friday post features Ernie Boyer sitting at his desk at his welcome party as the United States Commissioner of Education in 1977. Many of the items seen on Boyer’s desk are now housed in the Boyer Archives, which shows just how significant these items were to Boyer’s work. While it may seem obvious, Boyer’s desk was a central location for his work. In fact, when Boyer became president of the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching (CFAT) he had two offices, one as his main CFAT office in New Jersey and the other in Washington, D.C., for when he traveled there on business.
But no matter which desk he was using, for Boyer the desk seemed to be both a place of personal satisfaction and of professional development. In terms of personal satisfaction, Boyer often kept three pictures on the wall by his desk of three people he admired: Helen Keller, Albert Einstein, and Albert Schweitzer. When meeting someone in his office, Boyer would use these pictures as a conversation piece. In addition, like many others, Boyer often used his desk to complete personal work such as answering calls, reading mail, or writing.
Yet, the desk was also a place of professional development. Often Boyer would meet individuals in his office for various reasons: discussing publications, conducting interviews, hosting personal visitors. It is likely that in this small office desk setting that more enlightening or at least more specific information could be discussed, as opposed to bigger discussions in a board meeting. Boyer supports this idea in an unpublished chapter titled “Literacy and Learning.” In it he states:
Several years ago, when I was Commissioner of Education, I walked unannounced into a sixth grade classroom in New Haven [Connecticut]. There were nearly thirty children crowding around the teacher’s desk. I discovered that, rather than confronting an emergency, I had, in fact, become part of a moment of great discovery The children had just finished reading Charles Dickens’s Oliver Twist, and these sixth graders in inner-city New Haven were rigorously debating whether little Oliver could make it in their city.
Even when observing little children, it is clear that the desk can be a place of engagement and learning. Therefore, today’s post features not just Boyer at his desk, but Boyer in the context in which he worked. His work place was both a home base for productivity and a place of great discovery. When these two factors come together, the desk becomes a place of learning.
To read the rest of Boyer’s unpublished chapter, click here.
In 1988 Boyer wrote an article for the London Times Higher Education Supplement column titled, “Doubts Raised on Division of Three-Tier Cake.” When coming up with this title, it’s possible that Boyer thought back to his welcome party as the new United States Commissioner of Education, during which he was presented with a big tiered cake. This cake is the featured picture of today’s post.
In the London Times article, Boyer describes the three-tiered system of the California higher education system and how it was meant to operate. Starting with the third tier and ending with the first, he states that ideally:
The University of California, with its nine separate institutions, would be highly selective, and carry the primary responsibility for doctorate education and research. The 19 campuses of the state university system would be less selective. They would offer masters but no doctorate degrees and support more limited research. The 106 community colleges would be the point of entry for most students but provide transfer to senior institutions. Thus California designed a system that embraced elitism and openness, selectivity and mobility as well.
However, after 25 years of this system, reality overtook the design. Instead of focusing on the idea of transferring to higher tiers in the education system, community colleges began to focus more on serving adults, Latino/a, and black students who often were unwilling to transfer. Among state universities, professors “worried that without students in Ph.D. programs they could not adequately pursue advanced scholarship.” This worry stemmed from the fact that the University of California emphasized research to the point that the commitment to undergraduate education was questioned. Yet, Boyer also notes that the commission hired by the state of California to assess the system, believed that these problems would be compounded when Latino/as and blacks made up the majority of students in community colleges. Thus, it became necessary to take action.
The commission recommended that the interrelationship of the institutions be reaffirmed in order to effectively serve the more disadvantaged students by informing them of the transfer options the system allowed for. Second, it called for a shift in the faculty reward system, professors would be given credit for working with colleagues in public schools as opposed to relying on research for promotions. Third, the commission emphasized the need to give “appropriate priority” to teaching as well as curriculum created by both faculty and governing boards. Last, the University of California remained the doctorate granting sector. However, joint doctoral programs between the State University and the University of California were proposed. Therefore, “California’s revised master plan has thoughtfully established new priorities for American higher education.”
While today’s featured photo does not directly relate to the article described, the cake is nevertheless an important representation of Boyer’s analysis of California’s higher education system in the 1980s. If the layers of a tiered cake are separated, the quality and aesthetic impact of the cake is diminished. In the same way, Boyer affirmed the California commission’s decisions to strengthen the connectivity between the tiers of California higher education.
To read the rest of Boyer’s article, click here.
Today’s Photo Friday post shows Ernie Boyer with several unidentified men and women at a board meeting for the Office of Education when he was the U.S. Commissioner of Education. While this photo may not seem too significant, it nonetheless accurately portrays Boyer’s typical day-to-day routine. Boyer often spent a great amount of time in and traveling to various meetings and appointments, which ranged from speaking with individuals to addressing organizations of which he was a member.
The Boyer Center Archives houses many documents relating to these meetings, including minutes, agendas, financial statement, memos, and correspondence. Typically, these documents focus on topics like implementing educational curriculum, conducting studies, or preparing publications. Stimulating stuff!
Yet in all seriousness, these documents come alive when Kay Boyer describes them in her book Many Mansions. Having read through hundreds of pages of Ernie’s daily appointment books, she describes five days in February 1978 to illustrate Ernie’s schedule. To condense these pages, I will simply chart the events of each day:
Kay concludes this illustration by stating:
Those five days provide a glimpse into the scope and intensity of Ernie’s efforts, but it does not reveal all of his work. Day-by-day, Ernie was charged with leading 146 separate programs, from federally insured student loans to programs addressing our nations’ tragic legacy of segregation and discrimination in education.
Ernie’s commitment to such a hectic schedule shows the degree to which he was both committed to education and his colleagues. However, by including personal things in this schedule, Kay demonstrates that making time for faith and family are what kept Ernie Boyer going.
Today’s post thus attempts to shed light on the logistical operations of Boyer’s work as the U.S. Commissioner of Education and how he balanced his time between all of his appointments, with organization, individuals, and family.
Today’s Photo Friday post features a scenic view of the River Cam, which cuts through the campus of Cambridge University in England. This photo was taken in 1976 when Ernie Boyer, his wife Kay, and their son Stephen were living in Cambridge while Ernie was on sabbatical through a fellowship with the university.
The relaxing views Boyer saw, like the on featured today, would have made great spot for reflecting on all of the ideas regarding education that he had accumulated during his time as Chancellor of the State University of New York (SUNY). Fortunately Boyer’s sabbatical also allowed time for him to put these ideas on paper. With the help of Martin “Marty” Kaplan, Boyer published one of his first book-length writings, Educating for Survival (1977). This work reveals some of Boyer’s basic thoughts about education, what it means to be educated, and even what it means to be human.
Yet it seems to me that these ideas might be summed up in one word: connections. Boyer expresses these ideas in a speech he gave to the United Nations Association in 1980. He stated:
There are two dramatic currents in the world today, currents that seem almost to be on a collision course. On the one hand we seem increasingly to want to fragment ourselves and build artificial barriers. While on the other hand the need for more togetherness becomes more and more urgent. I believe the task before us is- quite literally- educating for survival….
For educators the point of all of this is absolutely clear. I’m convinced that in the days ahead- students must be taught that all actions on this planet, whether physical or social, are inextricably interlocked. And I believe that international education which underscores the rule of law must be aggressively preserved. Well to be precise, I must confess that international education may not quite be the term. Students must consider not just the relationships of nations. They must also focus on the agenda of humanity itself.
Throughout the speech, Boyer gives numerous examples to show the need for students to understand their connection or lack of connection with the rest of the world, and the implications of these realities. In other words, if we learn from our connections with others, we can work together to provide a sustainable and civil global community. Thus we must ask questions such as, where will we get our food? How can our energy be equally shared? Can we have a balance between the population and the life support system of the earth? Boyer demonstrates the importance of this issue of connectivity simply through the title of this speech, “Educating for Survival.”
Therefore, today’s post demonstrates Ernie Boyer’s more philosophical thoughts on education and the seriousness with which he associated education with the world in which we live.
To read the rest of Boyer’s speech, click here.
Today’s Photo Friday post features Ernie Boyer’s Messiah Academy graduation photo. While this photo may not be the most engaging we have had on Service Fulfilled, the story behind it is greatly important, especially in light of recent events in the Boyer Archives.
Being that Boyer was an alumnus of Messiah College (known during his student days as Messiah Bible College), a current Messiah student recently posed a question to the archives staff: “What did Boyer major in when he was at Messiah?” While the question is so basic, its answer is often overlooked when discussing the numerous accomplishments Boyer made in his later years.
To answer this question it must first be understood that when Boyer came to Messiah in 1945, he came to enroll in the Messiah Academy, a high school program sponsored by the college in those days. One year later he enrolled in what was then Messiah Bible College. Although the college offered various tracks of study, it was not accredited to grant bachelor’s degrees. Thus Boyer applied the credits he had earned from the bible college to a bachelor’s degree program at Greenville College, a Free Methodist school in Illinois. Although there is conflicting evidence as to his major at Greenville, it is clear that he studied history and psychology.
Yet, because Boyer later played a key role in American education, including as the chancellor of the SUNY university system and as the U.S. Commissioner of Education, this then begs another question: Why did Boyer shift his focus from history and psychology to education and administration?
To answer this question we must continue our re-tracing of Boyer’s academic pursuits. After graduating from Greenville College in 1950, Boyer and his wife, Kay, moved to Florida, where Ernie became a pastor of a small Brethren in Christ Church. However, one year later, wanting to continue his studies, Ernie accepted a faculty position at Upland College in Southern California. (This school, like Messiah in those days, was owned and operated by the Brethren in Christ Church.) It was in Southern California that he began working on his master’s and doctorate degrees in speech at the University of Southern California.
Yet, there were a few times when it seemed that Boyer might not finish his degree. One such instance occurred in 1954, when he was forced to withdraw his attendance from the university for a term due to an “emergency appendix and abdominal exploratory operation.” Still, not only did Boyer persevere through these difficult times, he thrived. It seems that his teaching and administrative roles at Upland College caused a change in Boyer. As Kay notes in her book Many Mansions,
Ernie was also interested in the development of the curriculum and was formulating his own educational philosophy. Being a member of the college curriculum committee ignited his thinking and passion. . . . Given his passion, I started to understand his fascination with the subject and recognize the importance of the work he was doing on this committee; in many ways he would continue to do this work over the course of his life.
Today’s Photo Friday post is not only a formal answer to the student who posed the question of Boyer’s degrees; it is also a glimpse into the reality of the educational experience, which builds a foundation for one’s life and provides direction for the future.
Today’s Photo Friday post shows Ernie Boyer admiring a piece of art at the Very Special Arts Festival at the Kennedy Center in 1978. At the time, Boyer was the United States Commissioner of Education, one of the highest leadership positions in the field of education. Today we often perceive such government leaders as seeking to reduce funding for subjects that are not a part of standardized tests, including art and music.
However, Ernie Boyer was not such a leader. He strongly believed that the arts and education belong together, not because the arts will help students with their math skills, but because the arts allow students to develop something which goes beyond what a test can gauge. Boyer returned to the Kennedy Center one year later in 1979 and gave a speech on the arts. He stated:
It has been said that humans are distinguishable from animals because of language. I would take one further step. I’m suggesting that what separates humans from humans-at-their-best are art, color, rhyme, rhythm, form, sound, and movement. The arts give expression to the profound urgings of the human spirit, which very often “words and phonemes” cannot capture. The arts validate our feelings in a world that deadens feelings, and they organize our perceptions and give meaningful coherence to existence…
What I’m suggesting is, that through the arts our schools can help every student achieve what on another occasion I called “the educated heart.” The educated heart means to me an expectation of beauty, a tolerance of others, a reaching for beauty without arrogance, a courtesy toward opposing views, a dedication to fairness and social justice, a love for graceful expression. I recognize that these are lofty goals- some may say sentimental, but I am convinced that they are within our grasp, and certainly within our dreams.
It is often said that the mark of a true leader is the vision he or she has for the future. In this way, Boyer went above and beyond his call as Commissioner of Education. Most people would think of an administrator as being concerned with relaying information to those underneath them and they would do the same for those below them and so on. However, Boyer’s focus was on all of the students at the bottom of this chain. Going further, his focus was also on how these students interact. How are schools effective if students are not taught how to fully communicate the knowledge they have learned? Boyer understood that expression and understanding are key for both human development and cohesion within a community. But, this can only be accomplished through the arts, as they provide numerous ways to convey feelings when words are not enough.
Therefore, today’s post pays tribute to the importance of the arts, its connection to education, and Boyer’s vision for this connection.
To read the rest of Boyer’s speech, click here.
Ernest L. Boyer: Hope for Today’s Universities is a scholarly volume released in April 2015. Each chapter introduces a contemporary issue in higher education through an essay by a scholar who specializes in that topic. Yet, each chapter also contains unpublished writings by Ernie Boyer—writings in which Boyer addresses the same issues as the preceding essay. This is not meant to be an evaluation of Boyer’s ideas. Rather, by framing the book in this format the objective is to showcase the relevance and accessibility of Boyer’s ideas today. In the words of the editors Todd C. Ream and John M. Braxton:
While Boyer’s influence has found its way into a number of educational environments, to date no volume connects Boyer’s wisdom to the current generation of crises facing higher education. This volume seeks to fill that void…
This edited volume systematically matches selections from Boyer’s writings found in the archives housed at Messiah College to the literature concerning the current set of crises besieging higher education. As a result, each chapter opens with an introduction to the state of a particular crisis by a noted higher education scholar with research interest in that area. Beyond the literature in the subfield of higher education, these scholars consider arguments made in recent books…Following the introduction offered in relation to the particular crisis, the same scholar then provides a battery of Boyer’s unpublished writings that best respond to the crisis in question
By offering this paralleled structure, this volume is meant to appeal to four audiences: (1) those interested in the history of the State University of New York (SUNY); (2) higher education scholars; (3) college and university administrators; and (4) government policy makers. These audiences can draw their own connections by relating with the issues presented on higher education while also being introduced to Boyer’s ideas, thereby providing them with a solid background on Boyer’s history and his ideas to combat these issues.
We at the Boyer Center Archives are very excited about this new volume. Not only does it directly utilize information housed here at the archives, but also, the themes and purposes of the book directly coincide with our mission—relevance and accessibility.
We hope to explore this volume more in depth in the near future. Stay tuned!
To purchase a copy of Ernest L. Boyer: Hope for Today’s Universities, click here.
Today’s Photo Friday post shows Ernie Boyer with his two brothers Bill (left) and Paul (middle) at the State University of New York (SUNY) chancellor’s home for their parent’s 50th wedding anniversary in 1974. This photo is an example of the strong connection this family shared. In fact, at various points throughout his career, Ernie received professional support from his family. Today’s post focuses on Ernie’s brother Paul and the work he did to support his brother.
Paul Boyer was an author, history professor, and director of the Institute for Research in the Humanities at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. Even though Ernie had a host of editors, including his wife, who lived closer than Wisconsin to review drafts of future publications or speeches, he still sent some work to his brother, believing in the wisdom he could provide. When Paul received this work from his brother, he would make grammatical edits, recommendations, comments of his overall impression of the work, and a log of how much time he spent reviewing the work. On one occasion, Paul spent over 15 hours reviewing a speech entitled “Civic Education: Some New Thoughts on a Familiar Subject”, which Ernie delivered at the Chancellor’s Colloquium at the Los Angeles Community Colleges. In a letter sent to Ernie regarding his review of the speech Paul writes:
Here is a draft along the lines we discussed. I hope you find it helpful for your Los Angeles speech. It’s probably a little longer than you need, but some of the earlier historical material could be cut back if needed, such as some of the quoted passages on pp. 2-3, and some of the stuff on the 1920s, on p. 5-6. I thought though that in a speech in which you speak of the importance of learning from the past, it would be useful to have a fairly solid historical grounding for what you say.
You will note that on p. 12-13, and again on pp. 16-17, I have woven in some passages and sentences from A Quest for Common Learning and Higher Learning in the Nation’s Service. I assume it isn’t plagiarism if you quote yourself without footnotes, but if the speech should be published you might want to add footnotes at these points indicating that this material is based on those two books.
This excerpt exemplifies the reflective insight Paul was able to provide for Ernie and how much Ernie valued his brother’s opinion. Yet, these feelings were also reciprocated. In a book Paul wrote entitled Mission on Taylor Street: The Founding and Yearly Years of the Dayton Brethren in Christ Mission he acknowledges Ernie for providing “information, assistance and encouragement.” Therefore, today’s post pays tribute to Paul Boyer’s personal accomplishments, as well as what seems to be a recurring theme here at Service Fulfilled, which is the love that the Boyer family had for one another and how it overflowed into their professional work.
To see more examples of Paul’s correspondence with Ernie, click here.
Today’s Photo Friday post shows Ernie Boyer and his wife Kay opening a gift at a “Dinner with the Deputies” event in Washington D.C in 1979. If you look closely at the photo, you may notice that the gift Ernie is opening is an “automatic telephone answerer”. Thus, this photo exemplifies the integration of technology into the modern day household and its influence on everyday life, including education.
Yet, how did Boyer feel about the rapid expansion of technology in the world of education? In 1983, Boyer gave a speech at Maricopa Community Colleges in which he elaborates on his opinion. He states:
Looking ahead- teacher anxiety not withstanding- it is my own conviction that this time this new technology revolution will not go away. The plain fact is that technology will teach and if we fail to use it teaching will still go on. What then is the place of technology in formal education? How can it be constructive- not corrosive? First, all students and all teachers should learn about the information revolution. In a general education report students should be taught the impact of mass communication. They should begin to see the extent to which the microchip now controls transition and discover the implications of a global communication network that makes it possible for messages instantaneously to span the globe. Second, I suggest that all students should be able to learn with technology….
The challenge of the future is not to fight technology nor is it to convert the school into a video game factory, competing with the local shopping center. Rather, the challenge is to build a partnership between traditional and non-traditional education, letting the technology, teachers, and the classroom do what they do best.
Viewing this issue of technology from today’s perspective, Boyer was absolutely right. Certainly we see from our smartphones, tablets, and laptops that, since Boyer gave his speech, technology has not gone away and in fact it has made drastic gains with its integration into everyday life. It was because Boyer had this foresight that he argued for, what seems to be, a distinction between learning from technology and learning with technology. To learn from technology is to learn of its uses and implications, while learning with technology is to guide the use of technology for learning and bettering one’s self. It is necessary to make this distinction in order to recognize the need for a balance of technology in the classroom, something which teachers today are told to strive for.
Today, I’m often told that I should upgrade my electronic devices (phone, laptop, etc.) every couple of years. However, it has been over thirty years since Boyer gave his speech on technology and his argument for balance still imparts a vital message. How is it that these words withstood the rapidly advancing technology we rely on? In Boyer’s words, “Television, calculators and computers cannot and will not make discriminatory judgments. They cannot and will not teach the students wisdom. This is the mission of the classroom and the teacher.”
To read the rest of Boyer’s speech, click here.
This summer, the staff of the Boyer Center Archives is working diligently to produce a finding aid for the collection. Once complete, this tool will allow individuals to better understand what documents can be found in the collection and where they are located, thereby providing greater accessibility and efficiency for research.
Currently, individual series scope and content notes are being produced for the finding aid. This process involves surveying the content of the boxes within that series to understand the range of time over Boyer’s career they were created. Moreover, the boxes are surveyed to understand the types and topics of the documents they contain. Lastly, the notes taken during the survey are then synthesized into paragraph form. In order to complete this process in the most effective manner, we are attempting to balance more meticulous and traditional archival processing methods with the faster MPLP (more product, less process) method. So far, scope and content notes have been written for half of the series in the collection. Once these are completed, we will write biographical and administrative histories as well as a container list for the collection.
However, as we progress with this project, a couple interesting conundrums have come up, each with its own positive and negative factors. The first is the overlap of material between different series. Although this could be seen as a positive factor, as it provides different avenues for researchers to explore, this overlap makes it difficult to articulate in a scope and content note how one series is different from another. The second conundrum, is understanding how the collection had been arranged prior to the arrival of the current archival staff. During the survey process, questions have arisen about why certain documents have been arranged as they are or where certain items are. Although it would prove too difficult to change certain parts of the established system at this point, we can and have changed certain aspects. For example, recently, we changed the name of one of the series from “Personnel Files” to “CFAT Administration Files” in order for the name to better match the content of the series.
Despite these challenges, our staff is very excited about this project and we look forward to making the finding aid available on the Boyer Center Archives website in the near future. Stay tuned for more updates on this and other projects happening at the Boyer Center Archives.
Today’s Photo Friday post shows Ernie Boyer and his wife Kay at Butler University in 1994. This photo is just one of many taken of Ernie and Kay as they attended events for Ernie’s work over the years.
This past Sunday, I attended a church service at the Grantham Brethren in Christ Church on the campus of Messiah College. After the service, I had the pleasure of talking with an elderly couple, who informed me that they were good friends of the Boyers and that they had been friends since Ernie and Kay were dating when they attended the Messiah Academy.
When I heard this story, I began to envision what life was like for Ernie and Kay at that time, and more specifically how they first met and the significance of that event. Fortunately, in the 1996 special edition of the Messiah College’s Magazine, The Bridge, their daughter Beverly paints a vivid picture of this first meeting. She writes:
It was in the registration line on the first day at Messiah Academy- now Messiah College. My mother left the farm where she grew up just miles from here, and my father had left his birthplace of Dayton, Ohio to come to this Brethren in Christ Boarding School. He loved to tell how he was standing in line and noticed a sweet-looking girl standing several people in front of him. He obviously took a good first look, because he delighted in describing the way her hair was swept up into a bun and the cute freckles across her cheeks and nose. He said she emanated a reserved charm and an innocent cheerfulness that completely entranced him.
Remembering his mother’s parting words when he left home (‘Now Ernest, I want you to find yourself a nice girl to marry!’) he made bold the following day and asked her to the school’s first formal dinner… They were married six years later and began a life together that was to span four-and-a-half decades.
This story is not only a significant moment in the life of Ernie and Kay, but it also a story on which many others hinge. As a result of their meeting and marriage, Ernie and Kay were able to form both a family and many lifelong friendships, such as with the elderly couple I talked to. It was through Ernie’s support and comfort that Kay became a nurse midwife and successfully led a household that would radiate love into every community they lived in. Yet, Beverly also states that, for Ernie, Kay’s “unwavering devotion was the granite foundation for his whole being”. She would sit in on meetings, revise papers, and send correspondence to aid Ernie’s work with the elites in education.
Therefore, today’s post pays tribute to the love that Ernie and Kay had for each other which spilled into lives of others. From the small community of Grantham Pennsylvania to national leaders, this couple made lasting influences on and memories with everyone around them, and it all started the first time they met.
Although the 1996 special edition of The Bridge is not available on the Boyer Center Archives Online Database, please feel free to contact us at the Boyer Center Archives for more information about the above excerpt or The Bridge Magazine as a whole.
Editor’s Note: “Behind the Scenes” is a new, regular feature at the “Service Fulfilled” blog. It will offer periodic glimpses into the work of the Boyer Center Archives staff. In these posts, we’ll highlight new additions to the collection, current projects for archives staff, archival questions and conundrums we’re confronting, and other tidbits of interest to those who might use the collection. Stay tuned!
Many readers of Service Fulfilled have used the Boyer Center Archives’ online catalog (powered by PastPerfect Museum Software) to search for speeches, manuscripts, photographs, and other materials documenting the life and work of Ernest L. Boyer. If you have, you may have noticed that our catalog interface was a bit… well, let’s say “outdated.” Now, the Boyer Center Online has updated the look and feel of its catalog — and the result is a new and improved way to search our online holdings!
The new database functions quite similarly to the old catalog: researchers can still perform basic and advance searchers, and can scroll through “random images” from the collection. (Those with questions about using the online catalog should check out our Tips for Searching page at the Boyer Center Archives website.) But the new catalog has a few additional features, such as the ability to search only within the “archives” or “objects” record groups.
More than anything else, the catalog’s look and feel has been improved — resulting (we hope) in increased functionality, user friendliness, and aesthetic appeal.
Check out the new-and-improved catalog now!
Today’s Photo Friday post shows Ernie Boyer conversing with two educators at the 1973 seminar for the Aspen Institute, an international nonprofit organization focused on educational and policy studies. Every summer for 12 years Boyer chaired this seminar.
Even during the summer months, Boyer worked diligently to improve education as it relates to both the welfare of the individual student and the nation as a whole. Such continuous work was not only a touchstone of Boyer’s career but also a recurring theme in his writing and speaking. Boyer argued in a speech at the 40th anniversary of the Aspen Institute seminar that the factors that affect student learning are continuous, even during the summer when there is no school. He stated that:
A recent Harvard report on hunger in America unequivocally concluded that a child who is nutritionally deprived will have a lower IQ, shorter attention span, and get lower grades in school. And yet- isn’t it ironic that at the very time there is an ‘urgent push’ for better schooling in this country, the federal child nutrition programs are shockingly underfunded… If the nation wants better schools, we simply must become more compassionate and more caring about our children, especially the least advantaged. This brings me to priority number 2. To have better schooling the country must give more dignity and more status to our teachers. If this nation would give as much status to first grade teachers as we give to full professors that one act alone would revitalize the nation’s schools.
Today, even though the school year is winding down, students’ daily experiences- including activities as simple as eating- still affect their ability to learn. There is no off switch when it comes to learning. For this reason, all people have a responsibility to guide students and to be compassionate towards them. Later in his speech, Boyer states that we can do this simply by giving “notice” or recognition to each student. If we desire to be a nation with a strong educational system, we must actually support the students who are a part of that system. By doing so, we can accomplish what Boyer hoped for. We can empathize with teachers and understand the important roles they play in our society- that they shape those individuals who will shape the future by being educators, facilitators, role models, assessors, planners, and much more.
Today’s post not only demonstrates the relevance of Boyer’s words; it is also a way of saying thank you to the many teachers across the country for their hard work this year. Lastly, it is a call for those who read this post to invest in the lives of our youth, as the task of teaching is never done- even during the summer.
To read the rest of Boyer’s speech, click here.
Monday April 6th 2015 marked the 44th anniversary of Ernest L. Boyer’s inauguration as chancellor of the State University of New York (SUNY). Today’s Photo Friday commemorates the ceremony as Boyer stands alongside Nelson A. Rockefeller, then governor of New York State.
Boyer served as SUNY chancellor from 1970 to 1977. During that time, he helped to support major changes in the structure and typical perception of what makes a university. Even during his inauguration address, Boyer sets goals to guide the SUNY’s future. He called the university to stand together in the face of adversity by promoting unity, hope, determination, and effort. For example, Boyer proposed a “series of regional ‘Cooperative Councils on Higher Education’”. He supported creativity and reflective thinking on the part of students as well as the equality of teaching compared to research on the part of professors. He was in favor of new three-year institutions to allow flexibility for teaching and for the individual student. Finally, despite the “yawning chasm” between the campus and the surrounding town, Boyer advocated a deep connection between the university and the community.
In all of these ways, Boyer challenged the conventional methods of university life. Nevertheless, the significance of Boyer’s words extends far beyond the moment of his inauguration or his time as chancellor.
In his speech, Boyer states:
I do not for one moment misjudge the urgencies we face. They are very real. And yet, ultimately, the issue is not the gravity of the crisis but rather the quality of our response. The strength, the fiber of an institution, as in all of us, is not revealed in tranquil, easy times. Rather, character shines through when adversity looms large and hard choices must be made…Our future will be shaped, not by mysterious, invisible forces beyond ourselves, but by the convictions we agree to share and the actions we decide to take.
Although Boyer proposed many innovative programs as chancellor of SUNY, they are not the reason for celebrating his legacy. Rather, the principles that lay behind these innovations should be celebrated. Boyer understood that all of us will face struggles, but we can grow through them, not just individually, but collectively, by acting on the convictions we hold. Therefore, today’s post celebrates both the beginning and the continuation of a legacy that is felt today.
Today’s Photo Friday post shows Ernie Boyer in a more relaxed setting: playing a rousing game of table tennis in China!
This photo was taken in 1975, when Ernie and his wife Kay took an unexpected trip to China. From out of the blue, Ernie’s office received a call from the Washington D. C. Chinese Liaison Office, which informed him that he and his wife were invited to visit China. Kay describes their experience in “The Forbidden Kingdom,” a subsection of chapter 14 of her book Many Mansions (which we have previously introduced on the blog). In a very engaging story, Kay explains that, although she and Ernie did not know the reason for their visit, they took the time to take in the scenery. Yet, more importantly, they sought to understand Chinese culture, to meet the people who made up that culture, and to experience the institutions that guided those people, particularly in education. Ernie was then able to consider these values in his later writings.
In the following passage, Kay explains what Ernie noted about the differences between how the Chinese viewed education and leadership compared to the State University of New York (SUNY):
SUNY’s motto expressed a commitment to serve each individual, while the Chinese prepared to serve the whole society. Ernie wondered how SUNY could continue to celebrate the individual and also face up to the challenge of working together to reach out and serve others.
Ernie found many other ways to consider what we observed. He wrote about administrators moving from their own pivot points of power from time to time to meet the people and participate in the work of the enterprise they directed. He then decided to experience that concept for himself…he arranged for an extended stay on campus and spent a night sleeping in a men’s dormitory. The next day he spent time alongside the maintenance workers, campus security, and the lower administrative ranks.
Today’s photo thus represents Boyer as a person who enjoyed engaging with others outside of formal educational settings – like across a ping pong table – as well as a person who learned from other cultures to improve education and our world-views.
Ernie Boyer loved children — a fact that should be readily obvious to anyone seeing this week’s Photo Friday image.
The image speaks volumes about Boyer’s view of children and attitude toward their education. It shows Boyer engaged in a personal, face-to-face conversation with Scott Manly, a kindergarten student. Boyer is hunkered down, looking the child in the eyes and engaging the youngster on his level, not on a adult’s level. And this coming from a man who, at the time, was serving as the chancellor of one of the nation’s largest state university systems!
Boyer’s passion for children animated much of his life and career. As Senator Edward Kennedy wrote upon Boyer’s death in 1995:
More than anyone of his time, [Boyer] taught us that it is children, not just the schools, that should be the focus of our concern; that education is a community-wide effort which begins with the birth of a child; that supporting education is, more than any other challenge, not an expenditure but an investment; and that failure to act now will surely mean higher costs, wasted lives, promises unfulfilled. . . .
Ernie’s greatest gift to the nation was his unwavering commitment to education and to keeping all children at the heart of the nation’s agenda. And when Ernie said all children, he meant all children, so that none would be left out or left behind.
Today’s Photo Friday post celebrates Boyer’s “unwavering commitment” to keeping children “at the heart” of American education.
“Language is our most essential human function and its sets us apart from all other forms of life, the porpoise and bumblebee notwithstanding. The top priority for any collaboration, in my view, is to empower our students in the use of the written and the spoken word. Language is not just another subject[;] it is the means by which all other subjects are pursued. After all, language is the way we convey our feelings and ideas and define our humanity to others.”
— Ernest L. Boyer, Sr., in a 1987 speech titled, “College: Making the Connections,” delivered at SUNY Purchase as part of the President’s Leadership Forum
Editor’s Note: Do you know about our “Behind the Scenes” regular feature here at Service Fulfilled? It’s where we offer periodic glimpses into the work of the Boyer Center Archives staff. Check out the first entry here, and be sure to stay tuned for future installments!
Here at the Boyer Center Archives, we’re always looking for ways to improve researcher experience. That’s especially true for those researchers who never make it to the physical archive: those researchers who use our online catalog!
To that end, we’ve created a new page at our Boyer Center Archives website — one entirely devoted to tips for searching the online catalog! Check out the page, which is now live.
And if you have tips for how we can improve the online searching experience, let us know!
It would be interesting to know what Ernest L. Boyer thought of Nelson A. Rockefeller, the long-serving governor of New York State and later U.S. Vice President under Gerald Ford. Rockefeller was in office when Boyer served as chancellor of New York’s state university system (1970-1977), and to judge by the number of times “Rockefeller” shows up in a Boyer Center Archives’ online database search, it seems like they had considerable contact.
Yet Rockefeller once famously quipped, “I am imaginative [but] I am not bright.” And he wasn’t just being modest: Rockefeller lore is replete with laugh-worthy gaffes. A New York Times review of Rockefeller’s biography chronicles these embarrassments in this way:
Reading Richard Norton Smith’s fat biography is a task “Rocky” [as Rockefeller was known] himself, who had severe dyslexia, probably couldn’t have completed. He was painfully inarticulate, once praising a political colleague for doing his job “horrendously” when he probably meant “stupendously.” He displayed embarrassing ignorance. Impressed by a Thomas Aquinas quote he came across in a newspaper editorial, Rockefeller asked a staff aide to arrange a meeting with this astute theologian. Rockefeller’s grasp of science didn’t inspire much confidence either. After being briefed on the harm aerosol products were doing to the ozone layer, he asked: “How do all those spray cans get up there?”
While we may never know how Boyer — himself famously articulate — related to a man so prone to public blunders, we can say for sure that they both had a high regard for education. For all his slip-ups, Rockefeller — like Boyer — was a champion of education. His biographer, in fact, describes him as “revering education . . . ‘as a blind man does sight.'” Prime among the evidence for such an assertion is the fact that Rockefeller virtually invented the State University of New York (SUNY) system, rocketing its enrollment from 38,000 to 244,000 students.
These facts help explain Rockefeller’s inscription on today’s Photo Friday image: “To Ernie Boyer, from his friend and admirer with deep appreciation and best wishes for your continued success!”
In 1977, Ernie Boyer made the transition from the chancellorship of the State University of New York to the U.S. Office of Education in Washington, D.C., where he served for two years as Commissioner of Education under President Jimmy Carter.
Ever an innovative thinker, Boyer brought a number of changes and new priorities to the “OE,” as the Office of Education was often called by its employees. Today’s Photo Friday highlights some of those changes.
Early in his time at OE, Boyer delivered a talk titled “The United States Office of Education: Reflections and Reaffirmation.” The talk, given during American Education Week in November 1977, traced the growth and development of the OE throughout American history and articulated some key changes for the future.
Here’s a taste of Boyer’s speech:
The United States Office of Education has, [throughout its history], become one of the most diversified, most complicated, and most consequential institutions in this Nation. And every day those of you assembled here come to work at something called “OE,” transforming these empty piles of stone into a living institution. . . .
But here I must strike a more somber note. For it is quite clear to me that the Office of Education — as an institution — also faces problems. Since arriving here I’ve met confusion about the mission of the office. I sensed that many of our colleagues feel trapped in bureaucratic boxes. I’ve also sensed that all too often talents are not fully used. Good ideas go unnoticed, or worse still — they are suppressed. Most seriously, perhaps, we don’t have effective ways to communicate with one another. And we do not develop fully the professional abilities of our staff.
These symptoms are not uncommon to bureaucracies. They are found everywhere. But while OE has its share of problems it has something else as well. We have here a high aspiration for our agency, a reservoir of talent, [and] an eagerness to work for self-improvement, and these are precious assets which also give us special strength.
To read Boyer’s complete address, click here.
“Constructing Hope: Inspired Learning in an Age of Accountability,” the 2015 symposium sponsored by the Ernest L. Boyer Center at Messiah College, will be held on Messiah’s Mechanicsburg campus on Thursday, October 8, 2015, from 4-7 p.m.
More details about the symposium — including keynote speaker, program lineup, and other items — are available on the Boyer Center website.
Plan now to attend what promises to be an exciting, generative conversation on the hope and promise of education in a challenging time!
“By the time [today’s students] graduate from secondary school, they [will] have watched television 16,000 hours, compared to 11,000 spent with their teachers. . . .
“[Meanwhile,] calculators can solve problems faster than the human brain, and computers can retrieve instantly millions of information units. . . .
“But television, calculators, and computers cannot — and will not — make discriminatory judgements. They cannot — or will not — teach the students wisdom. The challenge of the future is not to fight or imitate the electronic teacher. Rather, the challenge is to build a partnership between traditional and non-traditional education, letting each do what it can do best.”
Editor’s Note: “Behind the Scenes” is a new, regular feature at the “Service Fulfilled” blog. It will offer periodic glimpses into the work of the Boyer Center Archives staff. In these posts, we’ll highlight new additions to the collection, current projects for archives staff, archival questions and conundrums we’re confronting, and other tidbits of interest to those who might use the collection. Stay tuned!
While much of the Boyer Center Archives collection is text-based, a sizable portion of the collection is photographic. Our photo collection documents Boyer in various stages of life, often participating in programs, events, and celebrations. Many of these images are housed in photo albums arranged by Boyer’s wife, Kay, at various stages in her husband’s career.
Over the last several months, one of the key projects for Archives staff has been scanning and creating metadata for the important images contained within these photo albums — images that add immeasurably to the rich resources provided by the Archives.
For instance, you’ve long been able to read a digitized copy of Boyer’s inaugural address, delivered when he became chancellor of the State University of New York (SUNY) in 1971. But now, thanks to the digitization of these albums, you can also see Boyer reading that address, or see the New York State politicians and educators who attended Boyer’s inauguration, or see snapshots of the reception related to Boyer’s inauguration.
In the coming months, we’ll be developing virtual exhibits that will allow users to digitally “browse” these albums in their entirety. In the meantime, you can search the Boyer Center Archives’ photo collection by visiting our catalog, selecting “Advanced Search” on the left-hand menu, checking only the “Photos” option at the top of the search menu, and typing keywords or search terms into the relevant boxes.
A few weeks ago, Service Fulfilled introduced readers to Many Mansions, the recently published memoir by Kay Boyer, wife of Ernie Boyer. In the book, Kay uses the various houses she and Ernie lived in to sketch a portrait of their lives together. That portrait includes reflections on family life, professional life, and religious life — and it especially showcases the many, many moves that the Boyers made in the course of their marriage!
Today’s Photo Friday depicts one of those moves: the move from what Kay calls the “Chancellor’s House Mansion” in Albany, New York (in which the Boyers lived while Ernie was head of the State University of New York system) to the “Warm Heart Mansion” in McLean, Virginia, where the Boyers lived during Ernie’s tenure as U.S. Commissioner of Education under President Jimmy Carter.
Here’s how Kay describes the move:
To economize, we rented a U-Haul truck to move all of our belongings from Chancellor house. Craig [the Boyers’ son] came home to help Ernie carry the furniture and boxes and pack the truck parked in the driveway. Again, the press came to document this whole scene, which they apparently found worthy of the front page of the Albany paper. They seemed to think it was strange for the past chancellor and the new U.S. commissioner of education to be loading up his family belongings in a U-Haul truck.
You can read more by purchasing Kay’s memoir, Many Mansions.
Last week’s Photo Friday showcased Ernie Boyer’s many, many honorary degrees — and the decorative quilt creatively constructed from them!
This week’s post zeroes in on one of those honorary degrees — a doctorate conferred by Fordham University in New York City in 1973 — and the speech Boyer gave at its acceptance.
Last week, I was in Washington, D.C., for the annual meeting of the American Association of Colleges & Universities. And as we mentioned on the blog last week, the AAC&U meeting was the forum in which Dr. Ira Harkavy of the University of Pennsylvania received his much-deserved 2015 Ernest L. Boyer Award from the New American Colleges and Universities (ANAC). I was privileged to attend Dr. Harkavy’s acceptance speech. Here’s a quick summary.
In accepting the Boyer Award, Dr. Harkavy delivered an incredibly thoughtful and inspirational address. His words interwove the history of higher education, the words of Ernie Boyer, the founding of the University of Pennsylvania, and the mission and work of the Netter Center for Community Partnerships as he laid out his argument for the connected university, an institution that lives out a commitment to the broad social impacts of higher education.
Harkavy asserted a key idea that unites the work of Ernest L. Boyer and Benjamin Franklin: “That core idea,” he said, “is this: Service is the basis for their revolutionary vision of higher education”. Harkavy continued,
The purpose of higher education is service to society, for the progressive betterment of the human condition. And to realize that purpose, Franklin in 1749 and Boyer two hundred and forty-five years later in 1994, each wrote in effect proposals to create the New American College. Franklin broke with tradition by founding the College of Philadelphia (now the University of Pennsylvania) as deliberately unaffiliated from any religious denomination and therefore radically different from existing institutions of higher education in America or Europe. The College of Philadelphia was ‘dedicated to the advancement of scientific learning and knowledge for the betterment of humanity.’
While Boyer, a 1948 graduate of Messiah Bible College (now Messiah College) had a radically different religious orientation than the deist Franklin, he could not have agreed more with Franklin’s view that American higher education had a social mission. And for Boyer that mission specifically was realizing America’s founding democratic purpose. In 1994, in what has been extraordinarily influential in forming the New American College, he wrote: ‘Higher education and the larger purposes of American society have been from the very first inextricably intertwined.’
Warm congratulations to Ira Harvavy for this well-deserved honor! Thank you for your wonderful address that was such a meaningful tribute to the Netter Center, to the good work of ANAC, and to the ongoing and generative influence of Ernest L. Boyer.
Editor’s Note: This “Scholarship Spotlight” is the first of what we hope will become a regular or semi-regular series of posts on the site. The goal with these posts is to highlight scholarly projects that utilize (in part or fully) the resources of the Boyer Center Archives, particularly the digital collection. Stay tuned for future entries in this series!
“Creative Calls for Coherence: Ernest L. Boyer and Christian Higher Education” was the theme for a special 2014 issue of Christian Higher Education, a peer-reviewed scholarly journal focused on issues and problems in contemporary Christian higher education. Published by Taylor & Francis, the issue is available online for free.
Guest edited by Taylor University scholar Todd C. Ream, the special issue explores Boyer’s considerable influence on education, especially Christian higher education.
The issue focuses on Boyer’s “creative call for coherence.” As explained in a preview for the issue:
[Boyer’s creative call for coherence], or his compulsion to draw together the frayed intellectual and/or social threads defining our society, offers a powerful means of assessing his significant impact on education. Although anecdotal evidence indicates Boyer’s ideas influenced a number of Christian colleges and universities, no systematic efforts come to terms with this influence. This theme issue attempts to provide some basic frameworks for further research efforts while also looking at the impact Boyer’s Christian college experiences had upon him.
The first half of this issue seeks to introduce Boyer’s life, his faith, and the influence of Christian higher education on him. The second half of this issue is topical in nature and explores Boyer’s influence on some critical dimensions of the lives of Christian colleges and universities.
In his opening article, Ream highlights the work of the Boyer Center Archives in preserving and making accessible Boyer’s intellectual legacy:
Although Boyer passed away almost 20 years ago, his work continues to receive considerable interest absent a biography of him in any form. Most of Boyer’s publicly accessible works are found in reports published by the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching. For example, in Creating Campus Community: In Search of Ernest Boyer’s Legacy (Jossey-Bass, 2002), William M. McDonald and associates reviewed the impact Boyer’s reports had on how educators now design both curricular and cocurricular learning communities. In a comparable sense, John Braxton, William Luckey, and Patricia Helland’s Institutionalizing a Broader View of Scholarship Through Boyer’s Four Domains (Jossey-Bass, 2002) considers the impact of the ideas Boyer offered in Scholarship Reconsidered: Priorities of the Professoriate (Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching, 1990).
However, until recently a considerable number of Boyer’s ideas remained inaccessible to the general public. Initially, Boyer’s unpublished papers were housed in Princeton, New Jersey, under the care of the Carnegie Foundation. In the late 1990s, those materials (primarily comprised of large numbers of speeches and letters) were transferred to Messiah College in Mechanicsburg, Pennsylvania. Over the last several years, officials at Messiah have labored to make those items available to the public via a digitized archive system.
The completion of this process proves to be of considerable benefit to a number of groups, with one such group being scholars concerned with the well-being of Christian higher education.
Several articles in the issue, including Taylor University historian Drew Moser’s “Ernest L. Boyer and the American Christian College: Historical Considerations,” draw extensively on material from the archives.
The full table of contents for the issue includes:
- Todd C. Ream, “Creative Calls for Coherence: Ernest L. Boyer and Christian Higher Education”
- Paul S. Boyer, “Ernest L. Boyer’s Career in the Context of Post-World War II American Education”
- Douglas Jacobsen & Rhonda Hustedt Jacobsen, “The Religious Roots of Ernest L. Boyer’s Educational Vision: A Theology of Public Pietism”
- Drew Moser, “Ernest L. Boyer and the American Christian College: Historical Considerations”
- Cynthia A. Wells, “Renewing Our Shared Purpose: Considering Ernest L. Boyer’s General Education Vision for Christian Colleges and Universities”
- C. Skip Trudeau & Timothy W. Herrmann, “Ernest L. Boyer, the Christian College, and the Uneasy Tension between the Curriculum and the Cocurriculum”
- David I. Smith, Joonyong Um, & Claudia D. Beversluis, “The Scholarship of Teaching and Learning in a Christian Context”
In his lifetime, Ernie Boyer earned many, many honorary degrees. His achievements as SUNY chancellor, U.S. Commissioner of Education, and president of the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching — among other professional accomplishments — led to honorary conferrals from well-regarded institutions of higher learning, like the College of William and Mary and Fordham University, to lesser-known institutions like Hope College and Alfred University.
In fact, at one point in his career he’d earned so many honorary degrees that his mother, Ethel Boyer, used the academic hoods given to him to stitch a decorative quilt! That quilt is the focus of today’s Photo Friday post. (For another shot of the quilt, click here.)
Today, this fascinating piece of Boyer memorabilia is a part of the Boyer Center Archives’ object collection and hangs on display in the Boyer Center office at Messiah College. On your next visit to campus, stop by and check it out!
To see photos of Boyer receiving honorary degrees, click here.
Tomorrow, at the annual American Association of Colleges & Universities meeting in Washington, D.C., a University of Pennsylvania administrator will receive the Ernest L. Boyer Award for his leadership of a unique Penn program focused on community engagement.
Here’s the press release from the University of Pennsylvania:
Ira Harkavy, the associate vice president and founding director of the Barbara and Edward Netter Center for Community Partnerships at the University of Pennsylvania, will be honored with the fifth annual Ernest L. Boyer Award on Jan. 23 during the annual Association of American Colleges & Universities meeting in Washington, D.C.
Awarded by New American Colleges & Universities, a consortium of private, comprehensive colleges that are grounded in the liberal arts tradition, the award honors an individual who has made outstanding contributions to higher education.
Harkavy was selected for his pioneering work in university-community partnerships and the civic engagement of students and faculty. . . .
The Netter Center now focuses on two primary approaches that allow Penn to connect with the West Philadelphia community: academically based community service courses and university-assisted community school partnerships.
Academically based community service courses are a form of service learning that’s focused on real world problem solving, such as those related to poverty, education and health care. These integrate learning, community service, teaching and research. . . .
After receiving his award, Harkavy will present a lecture on “Creating the Connected Institution: Toward Realizing Benjamin Franklin’s and Ernest Boyer’s Revolutionary Vision for American Higher Education.”
Editor’s Note: Last night in his “State of the Union” address, President Barack Obama announced, among other proposals, his plan to provide two free years of community college education to American citizens. In her first post here at the blog, Dr. Cynthia A. Wells — director of the Ernest L. Boyer Center at Messiah College — reflects on the question: What would Ernest L. Boyer have thought about the President’s plan?
In 1972, Ernest L. Boyer delivered a speech entitled “Thinking about the Unthinkable: Tuition and Student Fees in Public Higher Education.” In that speech, he outlined some useful ideas for considering the connections between public funding and educational access. He notes that few issues are capable of generating so much heat as the question of who should pay the bill.
This is a helpful reminder as we consider President Obama’s proposal of a “bold plan to reduce the cost of community college . . . to zero” put forth in his State of the Union address. Debate as to the merits and challenges of the plan, entitled “America’s College Promise,” is widespread. Jeff Selingo suggests that free community college is a response to the “middle-skills gap,” that it helps individuals acquire those skills that don’t require a four-year degree but are not outcomes of a high school education. Julie Hirschfield Davis and Tamar Lewin, in their coverage of the proposal in the New York Times, describe the proposal’s capacity to transform publicly financed higher education in order to address growing economic inequality.
Discussion as to the merits and challenges of the community college funding proposal is no doubt just warming up, and Boyer’s 1972 text offers some generative ideas as we consider it.
First, Boyer reminds us that over our national history, the basic level of education judged to be essential for the coming generation has progressively risen. Indeed, in the late 19th century, grade 12 replaced grade 8 as a minimum level of necessary education. The demands of the 21st century require looking anew at what education is considered (and funded) to be universal.
Second, public policy related to higher education attends to enriching both the lives of individuals and the well-being of our society. Boyer said, “The central principle to be affirmed is the right of every American to receive . . . the education needed to achieve personal dignity and economic independence. Historically, and in practical terms, this means that public funds are used to provide a basic level of free schooling for the children of all citizens, believing that in this fashion each successive generation may make the maximum possible contribution to the common good.”
So, what would Boyer think about the President’s proposal? We can’t say with any certainty, but this speech — and others — offer a starting place for reflection.
“[D]eep down inside, the belief persists that education at its best can hold the intellectual center of society together. . . . And this—it seems to me—is precisely the point where “the humanities” move center stage. There is, I believe, more than an accidental connection between such words as human, humane and humanities. They identify an area of inquiry with people at the center. The humanities focus on the consequential common experiences of the human race and in so doing they seek to integrate and give meaning to all the [disciplines].”
— Ernest L. Boyer, in a manuscript published by the Community College Humanities Association, 1981.
Read the full manuscript here.
Today is Martin Luther King, Jr. Day, a federal holiday honoring the birth of an American civil rights leader, activist, and religious leader. Across the country, people will be reflecting on the life and legacy of Dr. King and participating in acts of service as a way of remembering his important role in our national history and in the quest for civil rights for African Americans.
In 1988, at a conference sponsored by the Martin Luther King, Jr. Federal Holiday Commission, Dr. Boyer shared his own reflections on Dr. King’s legacy and its relevance to American education. In the speech, Boyer highlights three aspects of King’s life and career on which student should focus. Here’s an excerpt of the speech:
We all rejoice, of course, that a national holiday has been dedicated to the memory of this extraordinary individual.
But it is my conviction—and it shall be the theme of my remarks today—that
if we fail to bring the message of Dr. King into the nation’s classrooms, memories will fade, our celebration will become increasingly superficial, and the holiday will be a time when we remember only the symbols, not the substance, of his work.
Specifically, I’m convinced that the curriculum in our schools should include a study of Reverend King for three essential reasons:
First, all students should study the life of Martin Luther King to understand, more precisely, the social and intellectual heritage of our nation. . . .
[Second,] I’m convinced that all students should learn about Martin Luther King not only to gain historical perspective, but also to understand the power and poetry of the written and spoken word. . . .
[Third,] all students also should study the life of Martin Luther King to understand more fully the relationship between what they learn and how they live.
Read the entire speech here.
Earlier this week, Service Fulfilled previewed Many Mansions: Lessons of Faith, Family, and Public Service (ACU Press, 2014), the recently-released memoir by Ernie Boyer’s wife, Kay. In the book, she traces her family’s life journey by focusing on the many homes they occupied throughout the U.S.: from their first “Honeymoon Cottage Magical Mansion” in Orlando, Florida, to their final “Family Home Mansion” in Princeton, N.J.
One of the mid-life homes — the “Chancellor House Mansion” — was the Boyer’s residence while Ernie served as the head of the State University of New York from 1971-1976. Today’s Photo Friday post showcases a photo of Ernie and Kay relaxing in that home. (More details about the photo here.)
In Many Mansions, Kay describes the house’s primary function: hospitality.
From our earliest days in the Chancellor House, we felt it was important to reach out with warmth and hospitality to many groups. Ernie wanted to focus his leadership on students, so our first big event at Chancellor House was a large reception for student-body presidents, members of student senates, and student editors from all of the sixty-four SUNY campuses. A little later, we gave a reception to show friendship to the people living on our street, and then to a large group of members of the news media. Ernie and I shook hands with everyone and then moved among the guests to show friendship.
The main function of the house was as a gathering place for the daylong meetings, special lunches, and formal dinners. These could involve groups of the campus presidents, administrators, faculty leaders, student representatives, Ernie’s central administrative staff, and others. The goal was to create a warm, friendly, home-like atmosphere that would make it easy to create personal connections. Ernie and I both made considerable efforts to remember each person’s name at every event. This was all part of his leadership style, and I enjoyed working in partnership with him. I planned the menus and directed events, which gave me wonderful opportunities to meet many outstanding students, faculty members, and administrators.
To read more about the “Chancellor House Mansion,” as well as the Boyer family’s other residences, check out Many Mansions, now available to purchase.
From the very first, community colleges, often called “the people’s colleges,” have stirred an egalitarian zeal among their members. . . . [But] The inspired sense of purpose that drove the growth of two-year colleges has somewhat eroded, and, in the hierarchy of American higher education, too many people look condescendingly at the system. But most disturbing, perhaps, the percentage of students transferring from community colleges to senior institutions has declined, and the argument is being made that educational opportunities, especially for minority students, are too restricted. . . .
By sharpening their goals and strengthening their academic core, community colleges can continue to fulfill, in new and creative ways, their traditional mission as “colleges of the people.”
— Ernest L. Boyer, in “Community of colleges ready for a facelift,” published in The Times Higher Education Supplement, May 6, 1988. (Boyer had a regular column in this publication for many years.)
Read the whole article here.
If you spend enough time immersed in Dr. Ernest L. Boyer’s professional work, it won’t take long to discover tiny glimpses of his life at home. Anecdotes of his family crept into speeches and impromptu remarks. It’s a nice reminder that despite his devotion to public service and commitment to quality education he also held a deep devotion to his family. Boyer understood that serving his wife and children as a good husband and father was just as (perhaps more so) important as his career.
Now we have the opportunity to peer deeper into Boyer’s dedication to his family with the publication of Kathryn Boyer’s memoir, Many Mansions: Lessons of Faith, Family, and Public Service.
Officially released last year at a private reception at Messiah College, the memoir chronicles the myriad experiences of the Ernest L. Boyer family. Each chapter focuses on a different house (there are 20 total!) the family lived in and the memories made in those homes. For any scholar of Ernest L. Boyer, Kathryn Boyer’s memoir in memory of her husband expands his legacy even further and widens our comprehension of the man behind the service.
You can purchase your copy of the book, published by Abilene Christian University Press, here.
Look for more posts about this book coming soon!
Blogger’s Note: This post launches a new regular series here at the “Service Fulfilled” blog: Photo Friday! Each week, we’ll highlight a new image from the Archives’ photographic collection. Our image collection (which is only partially digitized) documents each and every stage of Boyer’s life, from his early years in Dayton, Ohio, to his latter years in Princeton, New Jersey. So entries in this regular series will provide an understanding of Boyer’s life and work from many different times and at many different places. Enjoy!
By the time this post goes live, the spring semester at Messiah College — the institutional “home” of the Boyer Center and its archive — will be well underway. Students have returned from their winter break and have entered into a new season of classes and extra-curricular activities. Campus is buzzing with activity now that students are back and another semester has begun!
Here in the Boyer Center Archives, the start of a new semester has me thinking about the student days of Ernie Boyer, who attended what was then Messiah Bible College from 1946-1948. (He had graduated from Messiah Academy, a two-year high school-like program, earlier.)Boyer’s 1948 graduation photo is highlighted in today’s post.
By most accounts, Boyer was a model student at the Bible College — beloved by his teachers, and popular with his fellow students. As the College’s academic dean wrote to Boyer’s father, Clarence, in 1946, “Ernest is well respected by the student body. We feel much of this is due to the interest which you as parents have had in molding his life.”
As you might suspect, Messiah was a very different institution back in the early 20th century! At the time it was owned by the Brethren in Christ Church (it no longer has legal ties to the denomination, although it maintains a close relationship) and emphasized training for missions and religious service over other vocations.
Still, the College’s present-day educational commitments — to academic excellence, to training for service and leadership, to emphasis on building community — are very much rooted in its history. In fact, in later years, Boyer would comment on the College’s “legacy” and the ways that its past continue to influence its present mission and identity. What’s more, these commitments clearly shaped Boyer personally, since he would later go on to champion such issues as education for service and community-building on campus.
We’ll be sure to highlight Boyer’s time as a college student — both at Messiah and his undergraduate alma mater, Greenville College — in future posts. Stay tuned!
It is my urgent hope that by the next century this nation will give more recognition and more status to the teacher. . . .
Excellence in Education means Excellence in Teaching. And . . . if the future of this nation is to be made secure, our top priority must be to give more status and more recognition to the teacher.
— Ernest L. Boyer, “Education in the Year 2000,” delivered at the University of Wisconsin system’s conference on teacher education, December 15, 1988.
Read the full speech here.
Welcome to Service Fulfilled, the new and improved blog of the Ernest L. Boyer Center Archives at Messiah College!
Our blog takes its name from a quotation that Ernest L. Boyer often used in his speeches:
“The tragedy of life is not death, it is destined for us all. The tragedy of life is to die with convictions undeclared, and service unfulfilled.”
When Boyer passed away in 1995, he left behind a legacy of fulfilled service to America’s students, parents, and educators. This blog — and the archive that sponsors it — is dedicated to preserving and providing access to the speeches, manuscripts, and other documents that capture Boyer’s legacy for future generations.
Stay tuned for posts that showcase the valuable resources of the Boyer Center Archives; that offer behind-the-scenes “sneak peeks” at the goings-on in the Archives; that connect Boyer’s writings to contemporary issues in American education; and that advertise news, events, and current and future projects of the Ernest L. Boyer Center at Messiah College!
If there is one constant throughout the work of Ernest L. Boyer it is his empahsis on the mastery of language. He stressed it in speeches and featured it prominently in Carnegie Foundation publications like Ready to Learn: A Mandate for the Nation, High School: Secondary Education in America, and College: The Undergraduate Experience. Whether his work pertained to primary education, secondary education, or college, language was a key element regardless. Boyer spoke candidly of his own personal joy learning to read while attending Miss Rice’s first grade class. His earliest introduction of language obviously made a lasting impression and, from an outsider’s perspective, established a sort of lifelong love affair. Language was the key to not only a quality education, but a quality life. In the words of Boyer, “…language defines our humanity.”
Combining his leadership in the field of education and his deep personal love of language, Boyer promoted literacy throughout his entire career. At the 1988 Virginia State Library and Archives Literacy Conference, he reminded the crowd that advocating for literacy went beyond the mechanics of learning to read. That is merely the surface issue. But beyond that is comprehension and the ability to make connections. “Literacy means the ability to think clearly and creatively, and engage in constructive discourse. Above all, we need integrity in literacy – an understanding that the use of language is a sacred trust.” Language is a tool all humans use, all day, every day. Have you ever considered it a sacred trust? My guess is most of us view it as a common necessity. Boyer reminds us, though, that it is anything but a necessity. It is the fount of emotion. It is the source of connection. It is the key to life.
“There may be differences in lifestyle – some of it by choice, others by necessity. But for us to somehow draw moral skirts around us and say that we’re holier than someone else because of their family circumstances is a lose-lose situation. [It] doesn’t make me feel any better, and it certainly doesn’t make you feel any better either. So I think that’s not the issue. The issue is that although people’s family circumstances might differ, overwhelmingly we are convinced that we ought to do right by children. That’s the point that brings us together.” – Ernest L. Boyer, when asked about “family values” during an interview on the Carnegie Foundation publication “Ready to Learn: A Mandate for the Nation”.
*Sometimes you’re watching an interview with Ernest L. Boyer and are struck by a profound statement and need to rewind and pause multiple times to jot it all down, because the words still hold so much meaning today.*
Ernest L. Boyer met triple crown winner, Secretariat. Who’s watching the Kentucky Derby today?
Image: 1000 0000 0319
This video from the Huntington Library answers the question for us. Great work they are doing!
On this last day of National Poetry Month, here’s a poem frequently quoted by Dr. Ernest L. Boyer: Vachel Lindsay’s “The Leaden-Eyed.”
Let not young souls be smothered out before
They do quaint deeds and fully flaunt their pride.
It is the world’s one crime its babes grow dull,
Its poor ox-like, limp and leaden-eyed.
Not that they starve; but starve so dreamlessly.
Not that they sow, but that they seldom reap,
Not that they serve, but have no gods to serve,
Not that they die, but that they die like sheep.
All of the chapter manuscripts for Ernest L. Boyer’s Ready to Learn have been digitized and are available online for the convenience of researchers. The two publications the archives team is currently working on are: School Choice and Campus Life: In Search of Community. Student workers are in the process of digitizing the School Choice manuscripts and records are currently being added for Boyer’s Campus Life report – digitization has begun for those boxes too.
It’s that time of year again. Rabid college basketball fans are obsessing over their bracket picks and following every game in the NCAA basketball tournament. As a freshman at Messiah Bible College, Ernest L. Boyer played guard for the varsity basketball team. The team ended the season with four wins and one loss. Their opponents? Various alumni from Grantham, Carlisle, Franklin, and Lancaster. Judging from the photo below it seems Boyer specialized in defense.