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Letters to the Editor

 

Privileged lords of the universe?
Editor-Your article in the Spring 2005 issue of National CrossTalk -"Where the Boys Aren't"-was an eye-opener. I suggest one reason why Tom Mortenson's campaign to draw public attention to this issue has had so little response.

Mortenson's data on the declining representation of young males in higher education are of the kind that often inspires loud allegations of discrimination and oppression. The identity of the alleged oppressors depends on the nature of the victimized group, but at the intersection of most sets of oppressors lies the set of straight, white (and, for the French, Anglo-Saxon) males who are commonly thought of as the privileged lords of the universe. It is thus awkward, to say the least, to find that set comprising a major segment of a group that clearly needs public attention and help. Perhaps that is why this is "the issue that dare not speak its name."

Donald N. Langenberg
Chancellor Emeritus,
University of Maryland


Medgar Evers College's unique mission
Editor-The recently published article, "CUNY Sheds Reputation as 'Tutor U,'" while generally correct in its description of the renewal of The City University of New York, presents a misleading picture of Medgar Evers College, the youngest of the colleges within the City University structure.

The article stated that "all but about 20 students at Medgar Evers are enrolled in associate's degree, not bachelor's degree, programs." In fact, student enrollment for the Spring 2005 semester totaled 5,321 students, with 1,521 students-approximately 28 percent-enrolled in four-year programs. This error of fact misrepresents the deep commitment of the faculty, administration and staff of within CUNY, without regard to the challenges it may face as an institution serving a historically underserved population.

The creation of Medgar Evers College is unlike that of any other college within the City University system. Established in response to a unique coalition of community leaders, educators and local politicians, the College has continued its mission of meeting the educational and social needs of central Brooklyn, characterized as a low-income, minority area, with low educational attainment rates and high unemployment. The college has a proud history of successfully addressing the educational challenges associated with economically depressed inner-city areas.

Named in memory of the courageous African American civil rights martyr, Medgar Evers College opened its doors in 1971. At its first commencement in 1972, the College awarded 20 baccalaureate and eight associate degrees. At our May 2005 Commencement, just under 1,000 students graduated, of which approximately 600 were baccalaureate degree recipients. To date, the college has graduated approximately 10,000 students.

The article correctly states that although remediation was phased out at the baccalaureate level within the City University system, the need for remediation has not been eliminated. Of the many studies on achievement gaps, one research finding remains constant: Minority students bear an inordinate share of the burden of inadequate schooling. As a minority-serving college, we support our "highly nontraditional" minority student population by designing and implementing multiple programs that promote student success. Our College of Freshman Studies is one such example. Its success has been acknowledged by our selection as one of twelve "Founding Institutions" participating in the national "Foundations of Excellence in the First College Year" project. Sponsored by the Policy Center on the First Year of College and AASCU, the project will develop a national model of excellence for the first college year.

Emphasizing "traditional" indicators of success without understanding the complex relationships between income, race, first-generation students, and other factors that place nontraditional students at high risk may ultimately increase the already wide divisions experienced by minority populations.

To continue to build a society that embraces equality for current and future generations, we must address the educational needs of our nontraditional and minority student populations. At Medgar Evers College, "Creating Success, One Student at a Time" is not simply a motto; it is a covenant that expresses our belief in our community's future.

Edison O. Jackson
President
Medgar Evers College
The City University of New York

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National CrossTalk Summer 2005

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