Photo Friday: The Ernie Boyer Method of Mingling

Ernest L. Boyer mingling with employees of the central administration of SUNY in Albany, New York. -BCA

Ernest L. Boyer mingling with employees of the central administration of SUNY in Albany, New York. -BCA

Today’s Photo Friday post features Ernie Boyer mingling with employees of the State University of New York (SUNY) Administration. On the surface, it may seem that this event is of little importance. However, what is occurring in today’s featured picture is something that is important to any profession: networking. By talking with various people at social events Boyer was able to accomplish many tasks simultaneously. He was able to build connections with people and stay informed about current issues in education. He also was able to establish an avenue to both receive and give help to his colleagues. Perhaps more importantly, through these types of events Boyer could achieve another goal, a goal that he had in common with many of the people attending social events like cocktail parties.

In her book Many Mansions, Boyer’s wife Kay describes this goal and the way it was accomplished by Boyer as almost an art form. She says:

These parties were an interesting study for me, and I was intrigued by watching people as they arrived and following their movements after they took a quick glance around the crowed room. They would politely greet people while moving swiftly to the one or two individuals they had sought out upon entering the room; often they had come to the party specifically to lobby for a particular cause. Under the pressure of busy daytime schedules, these events were often the only way to take care of some pressing issues

While Boyer shared this goal of taking care of certain issues with other professionals, he had his own unique methods, particularly in the fact that he was not always alone on these social ventures. Kay “loved to go and went whenever [her] duties allowed.” She was an important part in Boyer’s method of mingling. She could “help with the spying” or “alert Ernie if one of the people he was hoping to speak to was making moves toward the exit.”

In addition, Boyer was different than most professionals in that there were things that he valued more than accomplishing these goals of establishing connections or addressing a certain issues. For example, one of the reasons why Kay loved to go with Ernie to cocktail parties and vice versa was because it was a chance for them to “enjoy some time together.” They even referred to it as their own version of “date night.” Moreover, for Boyer the idea of mingling with people was about understanding others and who they were. He wanted to discover ways that he could help them, and he wanted to establish personal friendships. This is why the Boyers frequently hosted dinner parties for students, faculty, and administrators, and always made it a point to shake everyone’s hand and remember their names.

Therefore, today’s post represents how both Ernie and Kay Boyer never separated their hospitality, kindness, and friendship with their work. Many professionals today would do well to adapt the Ernie Boyer method of mingling.


Photo Friday: The Basic School Bears

Carnegie Teacher Fellows (top row, left to right: Lillian Augustine, Kristin Sonquist, Eugene Schwartz, Suzann Westermann, Bev[erly] Boyer, Frances Harmon/bottom row, left to right: Mary Ellen Bafumo, Jean Mumper, Nancy McCullum, and Joy Warner). -BCA

Carnegie Teacher Fellows (top row, left to right: Lillian Augustine, Kristin Sonquist, Eugene Schwartz, Suzann Westermann, Bev[erly] Boyer, Frances Harmon/bottom row, left to right: Mary Ellen Bafumo, Jean Mumper, Nancy McCullum, and Joy Warner). -BCA

Today’s Photo Friday post features the 1992 Carnegie Teacher Fellows. This group met several times to discuss the Basic School curriculum that Ernie Boyer developed. Each person in the photo is holding a bear. One of the fellows instructed each person to send her one yard of fabric that represented themselves, and from these pieces she made a bear for each member. Whether intentional or unintentional, the way these bears were made represents some of the main ideas of what the fellows discussed, the Basic School.

Boyer summarizes these Basic School ideas in a speech he gave at East Washington University in 1979. He states:

First- we need a basic school—a time to teach each child fundamental skills and focus especially on the effective use of language. All we know, all we fear, all we hope is created and conveyed- through symbols… It is a startling fact that today young children watch television 4-5000 hours before they ever go to school. They soak up messages and stare at pictures without formulating messages of their own, without extending their own vocabulary, without developing the capacity for coherent thought. For many of our students this has become the age of the flash and the zap, the hour-long epic, the 30 minute encyclopedia, the 5 minute explanation, the one minute sell, the 2 second fix. In this context teaching children how to read and write and speak with clarity- becomes at once more difficult and more crucial.

What is important to note is Boyer’s belief in the connectivity of language or expression. We seek information from others because it is assumed that communication is possible, not only through language but also through common symbols associated with objects and abstract concepts. Yet, it is in this understanding of language and symbols that we can develop our own methods of expression. Oral expression or other methods such as art allow for both in-depth learning and individual cognitive development, which are skills necessary to function in society.

These ideas can be seen through the creation of the Carnegie Teacher Fellows bears. Each fellow was connected in the creation of the bears because each fellow supplied a piece of fabric. Although each piece of fabric was unique to each person, all of the pieces were necessary for the bears to be made and for each person to have one.

We need to remember that we are connected, not by fabric but by language and symbols. These things make up “all we know.” Therefore, we should encourage each other both to express ourselves and to listen to each other. In doing so, we can build upon our own knowledge while also striving for clarity and mutual understanding.

Today’s post demonstrates the impact of Boyer’s ideas, that they can be seen in tangible ways. This post is also a tribute to the groups of people who have taken the time to study and practice Boyer’s ideas.

To read the rest of Boyer’s speech, click here.



Photo Friday: A Tribute to the Life and Legacy of Dr. Ray Hostetter

Ernest L. Boyer speaking with Dr. Ray Hostetter. -BCA

Ernest L. Boyer speaking with Dr. Ray Hostetter. -BCA

Today’s Photo Friday post focuses not on Ernie Boyer but on his long-time friend and colleague Dr. Ray Hostetter—a man who stood beside Boyer for many years. Hostetter, the sixth president of Messiah College from 1964-1994, passed away on February 12, 2016, at the age of 88.

Boyer and Hostetter worked together closely from the 1970s to the 1990s, a period in which Boyer served on the college’s Board of Trustees and Hostetter served as the college’s president. Yet their friendship dates all the way back to 1940s. As students at what was then Messiah Bible College and as roommates at Greenville College, Boyer and Hostetter shared many memories: pulling pranks, playing chess, playing basketball, and attending the same church, among others.

However, the achievements and resulting legacy of Dr. Hostetter is uniquely his own. Throughout his tenure as president of Messiah College, Dr. Hostetter implemented creative ideas to expand Messiah, turning it from “a local school to a college recognized nationwide for excellence in Christian Higher Education.”

One simple way to see this improvement is to look at the operating budget of the college. At the start of Dr. Hostetter’s presidency, the college had a $400,000 budget; by the time he retired the budget had grown to $65 million. This advancement may be attributed to the fact that, prior to his presidency at Messiah, Dr. Hostetter was the college’s vice president of finance and development. Such leadership in finance was essential for raising funds to support the exponential growth in the number of student enrolled.

Another way to understand Dr. Hostetter’s success is to consider the growth of the student body. At the start of his presidency, 250 students were enrolled at Messiah. By the time he retired, 2,300 students were enrolled. As a result of accommodating these new students, the college also expanded its physical plant: it built a learning center, a campus center, a sports center, an arts center, an education hall, and ten residence halls.

Dr. Hostetter also implemented new ideas to expand student opportunities to grow academically and become connected globally. For example, he implemented a cooperative venture with Temple University to create the Messiah Philly Campus. In addition, under Dr. Hostetter, Messiah College teamed up with Daystar University in Kenya to enable Third World students a chance to earn a baccalaureate degree. Both of these ventures helped establish national recognition for Messiah.

However, as board member Harold Engle said, Dr. Hostetter’s dedication to Messiah was most evident in his “dignity, integrity, and humility.” He always acknowledged his accomplishments as a result of “teamwork of board, administration, and faulty, and has given God the glory.”

As a result of what Dr. Hostetter achieved over the course of his life, “anyone who has been near the development of Christian Higher Education would have to say that the accomplishments of Dr. and Mrs. Hostetter were unprecedented.” But it is not just those in academia who see the legacy of Dr. Hostetter. In fact, his legacy lives on in the “thousands of well-trained Christian young men and women who have gone out into the community and throughout the world to witness about Jesus Christ and to share their knowledge and abilities with tens of thousands of others.”

Perhaps Boyer best summarized Hostetter’s legacy when he gave this tribute to his friend during his retirement:

And all of this occurred during Ray Hostetter’s tenure as president of Messiah College. It has been a truly remarkable record of achievement—educationally, spiritually, and fiscally, as well. Under President Hostetter’s leadership an extraordinary institution of Christian Higher Education has been built. And we are all deeply in his debt.


Photo Friday: The Place of Learning

Ernest L. Boyer sitting at his desk at his welcoming party to Washington, DC as the new Commissioner of Education. - BCA

Ernest L. Boyer sitting at his desk at his welcoming party to Washington, DC as the new Commissioner of Education. – BCA

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.


Photo Friday: Memories of Cake

The cake at Ernest L. Boyer's welcome party as the new United States Commissioner of Education.- BCA

The cake at Ernest L. Boyer’s welcome party as the new United States Commissioner of Education.- BCA

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.


Photo Friday: Ernie Boyer’s Schedule

Ernest L. Boyer and other unidentified people at a board meeting in the Office of Education. - BCA

Ernest L. Boyer and other unidentified people at a board meeting in the Office of Education. – BCA

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.


Photo Friday: Connections in Cambridge

The River Cam on the campus of the University of Cambridge. - BCA

The River Cam on the campus of the University of Cambridge. – BCA

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.


Photo Friday: Boyer’s Degrees

Ernest L. Boyer as a 1946 Messiah Academy (high school) graduate.

Ernest L. Boyer as a 1946 Messiah Academy (high school) graduate.

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.


Photo Friday: The Arts, Education, and Leadership

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Ernest L. Boyer with Joan Kennedy Smith (left) and Vivienne Anderson (right) at the Very Special Arts Festival at the Kennedy Center. – BCA

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.

Scholarship Spotlight: Ernest L. Boyer: Hope for Today’s Universities

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 hope for today's universities resizedwisdom 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.


Photo Friday: Help from the Family

Ernest L. Boyer and his two brothers, Bill and Paul at the SUNY chancellor's home to celebrate their parents' 50th wedding anniversary. - BCA

Ernest L. Boyer and his two brothers, Bill and Paul at the SUNY chancellor’s home to celebrate their parents’ 50th wedding anniversary. – BCA

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.


Photo Friday: Boyer’s Thoughts on Technology

 Ernest L. and Kay Boyer opening a gift at a "Dinner with the Deputies" event in Washington, DC. - BCA

Ernest L. and Kay Boyer opening a gift at a “Dinner with the Deputies” event in Washington, DC. – BCA

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.


Behind the Scenes: Finding Aid in Progress

Photo of one example of the many boxes and documents being surveyed at the Boyer Center Archives. -BCA

Photo of one example of the many boxes and documents being surveyed at the Boyer Center Archives. -BCA

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.


Photo Friday: The First Time They Met

Photograph of Ernest L. and Kay Boyer taken at Butler University. - BCA

Photograph of Ernest L. and Kay Boyer taken at Butler University. – BCA

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.


Photo Friday: The Task is Never Done

Ernest L. Boyer with Robert Clark and an unnamed man at the 1973 Aspen Education Seminar. - BCA

Ernest L. Boyer with Robert Clark and an unnamed man at the 1973 Aspen Education Seminar. – BCA

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.


Photo Friday: SUNY Inauguration: Celebrating 44 Years!

Ernest L. Boyer and Nelson A. Rockefeller on the day of his inauguration as Chancellor of the State University of New York (SUNY). -BCA

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.

To read the rest of Boyer’s inauguration speech, click here. Or click here to learn more about Boyer and his time as chancellor of SUNY.


Photo Friday: Table Tennis in the “Forbidden Kingdom”

Ernest L. Boyer playing table tennis in China in 1974. - BCA

Ernest L. Boyer playing table tennis in China in 1975. – BCA

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.

To learn more about Ernie and Kay’s trip to China, consider purchasing a copy of Many Mansions or click here to see more photos of their trip.