Convocation Address, September 20, 2006
Welcome to Convocation 2006. Please consider yourself convoked. I had to look up that word “convoke.” I’d heard of evoke and invoke, not to mention revoke and provoke. “Convoke” comes from Latin roots that mean to call together. Today we call each other forth to mark formally our joint endeavor of another academic year. It will be an exciting year, even a momentous one. To appreciate where we are and what we will be attempting, I’ve asked Bill Everhart, Jim Whitaker, Dean Gerstein, and Esther Wiley to provide some financial context.
[The presentations by these four, totaling about 15 minutes, are excluded here.]
Bill and his colleagues just described an inflexion point, or rather several of them. Before last year, CGU had experienced declines in research and in applications, which last year became increases. We think we are turning the corner after several years of declining enrollment. We have seen stagnancy in annual giving, but after a year of almost no new pledges, last year we received many new promises of support, and overall it was the second-best fundraising year in CGU history. So, in what Bill called our financial short story, we may discern signs of change and thank goodness change for the better.
There are many other signs of change at CGU, including many new faces.
We have a new Chair of the Board of Trustees Deborah Anders, a new Provost Yi Feng, a new Vice President for Advancement Grant Rice, a new Vice Provost for Research Dean Gerstein, a new Dean of the Drucker School Ira Jackson, a new Associate Dean for Drucker Hideki Yamawaki, and CGU’s first Ombudsperson Tom Kosakowski. We have four new Trustees (three of whom, by the way, are persons of color). This fall we have welcomed the first Claremont National Scholars (all four of whom, by the way, are women). Last but certainly not least, we have eight new faculty members.
[Yi Feng introduces the new professors.]
Oh yes, and a new president. It’s been a wonderful first year with you. I knew it would be great to become your colleague and head cheerleader, but I never dreamed that it would be this inspiring, this intriguing, and this much fun. Thank you for your support, for your suggestions, and above all for the passion and dedication you bring to what you do at CGU.
The year ahead will be even better. Bill is right that we face financial challenges this year, which with good luck and a solid effort will be remedied a year from now. The challenges stem from needed investments the faculty, in recruiting, in the Drucker School, and in fundraising. One of these investments is the creation of a comprehensive campaign for CGU, and it’s this that I would like to talk with you about today.
We need more resources to be where each of us aspires to be. But as most of us know, resources don’t just come for the asking. Fundraising, at least for a graduate university like ours, is based on an investment mentality. Donors need to see that we have a vital, feasible strategy that takes account of market conditions, flows of students and jobs, trends in research funding, and what other leading graduate schools are doing. Donors need to see that through their investments in CGU they will be helping not just a few of us but many people outside our University’s borders. They need to see how the greatness of CGU contributes to greatness in the world beyond CGU.
And so we have begun a process for making that case. Not only saying it, but planning to do it, conditional on the funds we will raise. In a moment I’ll tell you a bit more about the process and plead with you to engage. But for now, I want to step back and locate this process in the history and culture and institutional DNA of Claremont Graduate University.
Amid all the changes we’re experiencing and all the transforming strategies we may devise, let’s keep an abiding idea in mind. Paradoxically, charting our new course should give us an opportunity to be more like us.
Copying and Competing In the late 1980s, the journalist James Fallows and his family went to live in Japan for a few years. Their goal was to find out why Japan was so successful. Everyone was saying America had to be more like Japan. When Fallows returned, he wrote a book about how the United States should strive to improve. His title? More like Us.
Fallows’ advice was that the United States should not copy Japan but live up to what is best about America. For example, we should enhance mobility, extend our ethic of discovery and adventure, and make sure everyone top to bottom has a chance to succeed in their own lights. To be competitive, the task is to do what we do best, even better. Or to put it another way, to live up to who we are and what we stand for.
I would like to borrow Fallows’ insight. What might it mean for Claremont Graduate University to be More Like Us?
CGU is an intimate, graduate-only university with a transdisciplinary, applied flavor. We have strong but underutilized “brand names.” We are located in Southern California, the most ethnically diverse region in the United States, and alongside one of the fastest growing areas, the Inland Empire—our location is therefore a wonderful laboratory for the study of important social trends, problems, and possibilities. We are part of the Claremont Consortium, which The Fiske Guide once called “the most extraordinary assemblage of educational excellence in the nation.” Our blend of intimacy and community, of high academic standards and transdisciplinary provocation, and our concern for making our world a better place: this blend is just what graduate education needs, just what our region and our country require.
Graduate Education As we begin to make the case for CGU, to plan our own way forward, to be more like us, we need to engage important new critiques of graduate education in the United States.
The Ph.D. Doctoral programs have been the subject of major studies, such as “Re-envisioning the Ph.D.” and “The Responsive Ph.D.” The critiques are withering: too arcane, too little attention to employment and professional development, exploitation, and a feeling of isolation for most doctoral students. Here are a few quotes:
Just as individual programs need to be connected more to each other in the shared experience of a strengthened graduate school, the doctorate in totality and in every discipline will benefit enormously by a continuing interchange with the worlds beyond academia.
More robust and better-integrated professional development experiences must be developed.
And yet doctoral education, keen to interpret all phenomena expertly, almost entirely fails to interpret and evaluate itself.
The MBA Other critiques address business schools. MBA programs are rebuked for being narrow, pseudo-scientific, and remote from the practice of management. For example, in May 2005 the Harvard Business Review published an influential critique by Warren Bennis and James O’Toole entitled “How Business Schools Lost Their Way.” Listen to what they say:
MBA programs face intense criticism for failing to impart useful skills, failing to prepare leaders, failing to instill norms of ethical behavior—and even failing to lead graduates to good corporate jobs.
The entire MBA curriculum must be infused with multidisciplinary, practical, and ethical questions and analyses reflecting the complex challenges business leaders face.
Schools of Education Finally, consider schools of education. They have been criticized for low academic standards, insignificant research, and ineffectiveness on the major problems facing education. Arthur Levine, until recently the Dean of Columbia University’s Teachers College, spent four years studying schools of education. Listen to a New York Times account of the findings of his March 2005 report, Educating School Leaders:
American colleges and universities do such a poor job of training the nation's future teachers and school administrators that 9 of every 10 principals consider the graduates unprepared for what awaits them in the classroom...
One result of this has been an army of unmotivated educators looking for extra credits in the easiest ways possible during their off hours. The universities, in turn, capitalize on this demand by viewing their education schools as cash cows, setting low admissions standards and offering quickie degrees instead of investing in a quality curriculum.
On September 18, 2006, a second volume, Educating School Teachers, was released. It finds that most education schools are engaged in a “pursuit of irrelevance,” with curriculums in disarray and faculty disconnected from classrooms and colleagues. These schools have “not kept pace with changing demographics, technology, global competition, and pressures to raise student achievement.”
Put these three together: fundamental critiques of three of our mainline activities, the Ph.D., the MBA, and graduate degrees in education. How should CGU respond?
We have to be More like Us.
Graduate schools are criticized for being impersonal, narrow, and divorced from the world. In contrast, the CGU experience at its best is intimate, transdisciplinary, and engaged with the world. As we move forward, we have to be more like us.
Intellectual Community Let me give you an example. On the DesCombes Gate is a quotation from James A. Blaisdell, the first President of Claremont Graduate University:
The center of a college is in great conversation and out of the talk of the college life springs everything else.
Blaisdell had in mind conversations outside class among students and professors, perhaps over coffee or a meal. These “Claremont conversations” help forge an intellectual community that is the hallmark of a liberal education.
With the Internet our conversations can escape the bounds of same-time, same-place environments. Our School of Information Systems and Technology is helping us imagine how CGU can become a test station for new information technologies that forge intellectual community. Think of new ways to collaborate on research. Think of a virtual atelier. Think of an intellectual My Space. Professor Terry Ryan describes a couple of our new initiatives to create “the Claremont Conversation for the 21st century.”
We will never replace the face-to-face Claremont Conversation, nor would we ever want to. It’s who we are. What we’re doing now is experimenting with new ways to extend those conversations in time and space, to be more like us.
Another element of creating intellectual community is graduate student housing. As Bill Everhart mentioned, it is a pleasure this month to be signing the final documents to finance and build a remarkable graduate complex, which should be ready by early 2008.
Graduate schools are criticized for being narrowly disciplinary and remote from application. Compared with most Ph.D. programs, Claremont Graduate University emphasizes applications across the disciplines to the problems of the real world. Just to give a few examples of many:
• Evaluation is a transdisciplinary focus at the School of Behavioral and Organizational Sciences.
• Political economy is a strength of the School of Politics and Economics.
• At the School of Arts and Humanities “the heart of this interconnection among disciplines [is] in cultural studies, with an expanded mission of training our students in the applied areas of humanistic study.”
• The School of Religion teaches students what it means to be inside and outside a community of faith, a comparative approach which includes perspectives that are theological, historical, and contextual.
• The School of Mathematical Sciences has strong programs in financial engineering (with Drucker) and in computational and systems biology (with the Keck Graduate Institute).
• The School of Information Systems and Technology emphasizes the social and human sides of the information revolution.
Professor Ryan mentioned the transdisciplinary course, or t-course. CGU is also the only doctoral program in America that requires all students to study together in a “transdisciplinary course.” Under the leadership of Professor Wendy Martin, the transdisciplinary program is in its second year. Exciting courses in the fall and spring are complemented by University-wide lectures on topics where trespassing across the disciplines has paid off in new knowledge and better practice.
Other Ph.D. programs are often criticized for flimsy efforts at professional development. In contrast, thanks to Dr. Laurie Richlin and her colleagues, CGU is a pioneer in professional development.
This year, CGU is launching new programs for those interested in non-academic careers—and this includes many Ph.D.s, who may not wish to confine themselves just to academia. One initiative involves DBM, the world’s leading provider of career management programs and services. Some 80 percent of the Global 500 companies and 70 percent of the Fortune 500 companies have used DBM services. CGU is the first university to partner with DBM across a variety of faculties to provide a variety of unique services to our students. Students can take advantage of DBM’s 230 offices in 85 countries around the world. Here is Fatma Kassamali, the new head of the Office of Career Management:
So, to meet the critiques leveled at Ph.D. programs and to provide national leadership to an industry under fire, CGU does not have to undergo a personality change. We have the seeds of the answers right here. We have to be more like us.
The same goes for the Peter F. Drucker-Masatoshi Ito School of Management. It already contains the seeds of the answers to the critiques of business schools. The Drucker School emphasizes what the father of modern management, Peter Drucker, espoused: values, looking at the long term, focusing on the customer, putting people at the center, and the knowledge economy. Yes, you master finance, accounting, marketing, and the usual skills of a first-rate school of management. But at Drucker you take a bigger, longer-term look. Because you learn skills from business and the non-profit sector, even from government, you are prepared to create new institutional arrangements to deal with tomorrow’s challenges.
This past year saw a remarkable development, the creation of the new Drucker Institute. As you recall, on May 12, 2006, leaders and scholars from business, government, academia, and civil society spent a day at CGU considering the legacy of Peter Drucker and how we might carry it forward in new ways to new audiences. The results included creative, actionable ideas, new relationships, and millions of dollars in gifts and pledges.
The next few years will be exciting for the Drucker Institute and the Drucker School. We will see a financial turnaround, a continuation and extension of the tremendous research done at the School, and expanded outreach activities. Five years from now, when people consider how to meet the critiques of business schools, they will turn to the Drucker School for guidance.
The School of Educational Studies combines a passion for justice with an insistence on accountability. It’s not either-or here, but both-and. If you study with us, you work on today and tomorrow’s most important educational issues. You meld disciplines and experience diversity. You take both your heart and your head into the task of improving education for better individuals and a better world.
Around the United States, teacher training is criticized for being uninterested in the links between what teachers learn and experience and what the results eventually are for students. CGU’s Teacher Education Program exemplifies a better way, as Professor DeLacy Ganley explains:
At the School of Educational Studies, at the Drucker School, and in each of our other graduate schools, we are already addressing the critiques of graduate education. Our task is to be even more like us. As we do so, we will thrive in terms of excellent students and faculty. We will provide national leadership. And—more on this in a moment—we’ll be able to raise a lot of money.
Research In research, too, we have to be more like us. Our hallmarks have been advancing knowledge and making a difference in the world. We hope to avoid the sad situation described by Edward Gibbon where “the wise abuse in doubt and dispute their vain superiority of reason and knowledge.”
Already our faculty and graduate students are active on major issues such as improving health care (Tina Christie), dealing with immigration (Will Pérez and Lourdes Arguelles and colleagues), fostering community (Allen Omoto), understanding terrorism (Marc Redfield), understanding human well-being (Jean Nakamura and Mike Csikszentmihalyi), improving understanding across religions and cultures (Karen Torjesen and Vincent Wimbush and colleagues), enhancing diversity and inclusion (Daryl Smith and colleagues), and more.
How many of you are graduate students? You are crucial to CGU’s research. Our goal is to help some of the ablest, most transdisciplinary graduate students in the world thrive at CGU. Your ability to make new connections, to see problems in new ways and combine research methods from different fields, will lead to imaginative breakthroughs. The new Claremont National Scholarships symbolize our commitment to support graduate students. This year we plan to double the number of nominees and the number of Scholars this year, and my wife Elaine and I are once again making a personal contribution of $10,000 to the cause.
We need to develop at least some of our excellent research projects into major research programs, with large amounts of outside funding. We need scale, in order to support our students and our faculty at nationally competitive levels, and to enable collaboration with the Claremont Colleges and with research partners in the communities and around the world.
Sometimes scaling up will involve basic research, as in the Center for Neuroeconomics Studies.
Another way we can have more impact is by convening people who can use our research in what they do—policymakers and leaders, citizens and journalists, as well as other scholars. This convening function could eventually be a CGU hallmark.
I mentioned that on May 12, 2006, the day before Commencement, CGU convened a remarkable set of leaders to discuss the Drucker legacy and how to carry it forward. This event created new ideas, new connections, and new money. This coming year, we’ll have a similar event but this time with a new theme and a different School in mind. The School of Behavioral and Organizational Sciences will be the convener. The theme will be “What Works?”
You’ve read about the amazing new wave of philanthropy involving people like Bill Gates, Warren Buffet, and many others. They are pouring vast amounts of money into some of the most important problems in our world, while at the same time insisting on evaluation and accountability. The Gates Foundation recently funded a study of the “evaluation gap.”
Everyone wants to ensure that donor and public monies are spent on programs that work, but measurement of impact is rare – and good quality measurement is rarer still. As a result, there is an evaluation gap. Program designers benefit little from accrued experience about what works.
This month’s Fortune magazine has a cover story on this new style of philanthropy, featuring Bill Clinton’s Foundation:
Like the Gates Foundation and Robin Hood, the Clinton Foundation is part of a new turn in philanthropy, in which the lines between not-for-profits, politics, and business tend to blur. In this hardheaded philanthropic world, outcomes matter more than intentions, influence isn’t measured in dollars alone, and you hear buzzwords like “scalability,” “sustainability,” and “measurability” all the time. As Clinton says, “It’s nice to be goodhearted, but in the end that’s nothing more than self-indulgence.”
The call for evaluation and accountability is right down our alley. So, on May 11, 2007—the day before Commencement—Dean Stewart Donaldson and his faculty will be inviting some of these philanthropists plus government leaders, academics, and activists to appraise where we are in knowing what works, and to consider how CGU might catalyze a quantum leap forward in evaluation.
Being more like us in research means that Claremont Graduate University will be a known as a leader in high-quality, objective research about some of the most important problems facing our region, our country, and our world. How will we get there from here?
First, we will begin with your plans and hopes, building a research strategy that melds many of those individual plans into something with even greater impact.
Second, we will enhance collaboration across our Schools and across the Claremont Consortium.
Third, we will make the case for graduate schools in general, and CGU in particular, as indispensable places for addressing the society’s hardest problems. Only universities combine the long-term perspective, the research skills, the creativity, and the objectivity to provide new thinking about what others may think are intractable problems.
Your Participation in Strategic Planning In this time of inflexion points, rapid change, and strategic planning, Claremont Graduate University can build on our history and our culture, our values and our distinctive excellence. In a time of trenchant critiques of graduate schools, I believe we already have the keys for success. We have to be more like us.
More like us does not mean complacency. It does not mean the status quo. The title of James Fallows’ book was not The Way We Once Were. My message today is not “relax, we’re fine.” Rather, it is that by being more of who we are and what we stand for, Claremont Graduate University can make much more of a difference. We can provide national leadership in graduate education. Our research can address some of the major issues of our region and our world. To do so, we will need more resources. To get them, we need a strategy. And to get a strategy that’s worth the name, you have to be engaged.
Our strategic planning will bring together your ideas about how to provide the best graduate education and how to do the most important research. Together we will consider how to enable collaboration across the Schools, across the Claremont Consortium, and with partners outside Claremont. We will share our ideas with each other, with our Trustees and our Advisory Boards, with our alumni and friends, and with outside experts. We will develop priorities and price tags. And then we will design a multi-year fundraising campaign.
In particular, over the next few months, you’ll be reading the vital, feasible strategies of our eight Schools. You’ll be asked for your ideas and for your concrete suggestions, large and small. In particular, looking across the Schools, what synergies, common themes, and potentials for collaboration can you imagine?
There will be many venues for your ideas to make a difference. Each School will be revising its vital, feasible strategy with your help and that of its Advisory Board. The Board of Trustees has a Long-Term Planning Committee, which has been meeting through the summer and will seek your ideas in the fall and winter. The Faculty’s Strategic Planning Committee begins meeting this month, led by Provost Feng and Professor Kathy Pezdek, the Chair of the Faculty Executive Committee.
We are in the early stages of planning a day-long event in January, where students, staff, faculty, and other stakeholders can share their ideas about the way ahead. Professor Hallie Preskill, the President-elect of the American Evaluation Association, will lead a team to design this “appreciative inquiry.” Experience shows that this technique is a wonderful way to learn from each other what matters and what specifically we can do to improve.
These processes are participatory and open-ended. They will produce surprises and creative ideas we haven’t yet had. I’m excited about what this year will bring.
A great fundraising campaign is built on great ideas and great people. Philanthropists and foundations won’t give to us, by and large, for who we once were, or because they once studied here. They will support us because our education can provide national leadership and because our research can advance knowledge and help change the world. To those who will fund us, what matters is what we mean out there. But it is consoling to know that our way forward, as bold and transformative as it may be, can be solidly based on who we have been and are in here. Our task together, this year and in the years ahead, is to be even more like us.