U-Md. Offers Ivy League Lessons to Older Crowd
Friday, February 8, 2008
For those who feel they missed out on an Ivy League education, there's this: The University of Maryland is bringing leading professors from Harvard, Yale and other top schools to teach classes, and students won't need SAT scores or prerequisites to get in.
With an eye on the booming boomer interest in lifelong education, U-Md. officials are announcing a partnership today that will marry talent from the country's best-known schools with the university's own. Professors will lead a day of seminars March 29 geared toward alumni and local residents long out of school, officials said.
"The baby boomers, the over-50 group, are the fastest growth area in higher education," said Judith Broida, dean of U-Md.'s office of professional studies. "We are very much targeting alums of the university and others who would love to come back for a day of education and enlightenment."
The classes are part of a national effort to make college more accessible. Some colleges are posting lessons online, and some professors have taken to putting their lectures on YouTube. Under a partnership with One Day University, an organization created to expand continuing-education programs, Maryland will offer its classes with nontraditional students in mind. The average age of a One Day University student is 55, with nearly an equal number of men and women attending classes.
Maryland is the first school to not only to be a host the seminars but also participate. The partnership came about after organizers sought to recruit two U-Md. professors to join the ranks of One Day University. They will now give their popular lectures across the country on weekends while keeping their day jobs at Maryland.
One Day University, which is in nearly a dozen cities across the country and has about 6,000 students, was born out of a visit Steven Schragis paid his daughter a few years ago when she was a freshman at Bard College in New York.
"I looked around and there were a couple of hundred parents saying, 'I wish I was going to college instead of paying for it,' " said Schragis, then conducting seminars for another company.
By 2006, Schragis and colleague John Galvin had teamed up to create One Day U. Now Galvin flies from campus to campus, looking for a "brilliant intellectual but not one with the personality of Elmer's glue," he said. They have to be "brilliant communicators, too."
"If they've won a Pulitzer or a Nobel Prize, we don't hold it against you," Schragis said. "Our focus is on teachers who are incredibly entertaining, so you get a mix of professors who have only been teaching a few years and aren't high on the totem pole and others who have been at schools for 50 years."
The list of topics offered is random, Schragis said, because professors are picked for their teaching ability, not their field.
Upcoming lectures will focus on "Moby-Dick," by a Columbia University professor; the nuclear age by a Yale professor; the science of happiness by a Harvard professor; and Colonial Williamsburg by a Maryland professor.
Although U-Md. officials are promoting the Ivy League to entice students, the school's professors don't seem to mind.
The founders of One Day University "have found the University of Maryland to be on par with the Ivy League, and that's a really important message to send out to our community," Broida said.