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September 22, 2003

Kerr Symposium kicks off weekend celebration October 10-12

Event will bring together some of the country’s biggest names in higher education

By Jennifer McNulty

There’s something for everyone the weekend of October 10-12, when UCSC celebrates the student experience with a scholarly conference, a fundraising dinner, and the dedication of College Nine and College Ten.

The first annual Clark Kerr Symposium on Friday, October 10, will bring together some of the country’s biggest names in higher education to discuss the role of public research universities in the 21st century.

The symposium begins at 8:30 a.m. in the Multipurpose Room of the College 9/10 Dining Hall. Preregistration is encouraged online. A continental breakfast for registered guests will begin at 8 a.m.

Chancellor M.R.C. Greenwood will welcome the guests, including Richard Atkinson, who steps down as UC president October 1.

Atkinson will deliver the keynote speech. Also returning to UCSC will be Chancellor Emeritus Karl Pister.

Panel discussions during the daylong symposium will address topics such as the benefits of student diversity, creating innovative curricula, and how best to develop the leaders of tomorrow.

Phillip Long (Cowell ’76), senior strategist for academic computing at Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), is looking forward to participating in the curricula discussion. MIT is at the forefront of efforts to use technology to support new teaching strategies, including an innovative approach to introductory physics called “Studio Physics,” said Long.

Instead of a 600-student lecture course, introductory physics at MIT is now taught in 100-student “active learning” sessions. Students sit in groups of nine at tables outfitted with a video projector and screen, a whiteboard with a camera, and three laptops. Instructors deliver 20-minute mini lectures that introduce a concept or problem, then monitor student teams as they perform calculations, do traditional experiments, and run simulations.

Technology facilitates student work and faculty feedback, explained Long, adding that he believes higher education is in for some radical changes driven by technology.

“Higher education institutions, next to the church, are the most conservative institutions in the world,” said Long. “They’ve resisted pressure to radically change how they do and present education, which has been beneficial. They remain largely unchanged since the late 1800s.”

But the growth of interdisciplinary and global collaboration has changed the way work and science are done--“it’s not a lone researcher in his lab publishing papers anymore”--and colleges and universities must modify the way they deliver education to prepare students to participate in today’s world.

“It’s not about students sitting in seats for 50-minute lectures three times a week,” said Long, who conceded that MIT’s new approach to physics education has met with mixed reviews.

“It’s controversial,” he said. “Some of the students have trouble with it, because they’re used to working more independently, and they don’t like having their grade depend in part on how well their team does.” Some faculty, too, dislike the redesigned course, which is in its final year of a three-year pilot phase.

As chair of the Advisory Council on Teaching and Learning for the National Learning Insfrastructure Initiative and author of a column called “Technology Trends” for Syllabus magazine, Long brings well-rounded expertise to what organizers hope will be a thought-provoking discussion.

Other participants throughout the day include Donald Kennedy, president emeritus of Stanford University; I. Michael Heyman, chancellor emeritus of UC Berkeley; Charles Young, chancellor emeritus of UCLA; Judith Ramaley, assistant director of the Education and Human Resources Directorate of the National Science Foundation; and James Duderstadt, president emeritus of the University of Michigan. Leon Panetta, former White House chief of staff under President Clinton, will also participate in the symposium.

On Saturday, October 11, the campus will celebrate its theme-oriented residential colleges with the dedication of College Nine and College Ten.

“Since its inception, UCSC has sought to create diverse living and learning communities that cross disciplinary boundaries to prepare students to tackle some of the world’s critical issues,” said Campbell Leaper, provost of the two colleges and a professor of psychology at UCSC. “Our new colleges continue this tradition of innovation.” The public ceremony begins at 10:30 a.m. at Colleges Nine and Ten.

That evening, the campus will host a first-ever gala dinner to raise money for undergraduate and graduate students, and Atkinson will be presented with the first UCSC Foundation Medal in recognition of his leadership.

On Sunday, October 12, current and alumni recipients of the Karl S. Pister Leadership Opportunity Awards Program Scholarships will gather for a reunion brunch. Established in 1993, the program helps students from 13 regional community colleges transfer to UCSC.

That evening, the annual Sidhartha Maitra Memorial Lecture hosts travel writer and author Pico Iyer, who will discuss “Islam and California: A Cultural Romance,” at 4 p.m. in the UCSC Recital Hall.

Other events taking place over the weekend include the annual Harvest Festival at the UCSC Farm on Saturday, from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m., the quarterly meeting of the UCSC Foundation, and a meeting of the UCSC Alumni Council.

“We look forward to welcoming alumni back to campus and making new connections with other members of the UCSC community,” said Greenwood.

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