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National CrossTalk Fall 1999
News Editorial Other Voices Interview
  In This Issue

FOR SEVERAL YEARS a contentious debate over distance education divided the faculty on the seven campuses of the state of Maine’s university system. The dispute was partly responsible for the departure of former Chancellor Michael Orenduff. But his replacement, Terrence MacTaggart (above), has found a way to expand distance learning opportunities for students without ruffling too many faculty feathers. (See Teaching in a Wired World)

Closing the Gender Gap
Smith College offers the first engineering track at an all-woman college

California's Improved Financial Aid Program
State reverses national trend toward merit scholarships

Teaching in a Wired World
Maine learns the lessons of distance education

Robert McCabe
Robert McCabe is a senior fellow with the League for Innovation in the Community College and is former president of Miami-Dade Community College. He is a foun-ding board member of the National Center for Public Policy and Higher Education. McCabe was interviewed by Patrick M. Callan, president of the Center.

Other Voices
Standards for the Standards Movement
Do high school exit exams measure up?

The Senior Slump
Making the most of high school preparation

The Public Purposes of Higher Education: Us Not Me

Policy Perspectives
"Disputed Territories"
A Civic Purposes Roundtable considers the role of higher education in preparing students for lives of social and political engagement
By Jon Marcus

The name of one of the newest courses at Smith College may seem self-explanatory to the literal-minded science students who attend this elite all-women, liberal arts school.
English majors are to be forgiven if they prefer to dwell on the symbolism.
The class is called Designing the Future, and it serves as the introduction to Smith's new undergraduate engineering program. It is literally a course in mechanical and electrical design. But it also marks the first engineering track at an all-women college, and only the third at a top liberal arts school.
Symbolism is, in fact, a part of the equation. Smith's new self-contained engineering major, which replaces a modest dual-degree program with Dartmouth College, has only one professor and 19 students. At capacity, it is projected to produce only 25 graduates per year, beginning some time after 2004. But it is in the vanguard of a concerted new movement to increase the number of women in a field seemingly more cloistered than any outside the Catholic priesthood-and to change the way all engineers are taught.
  An instructor at John Jay College, one of the City University of New York's senior colleges, helps students prepare for CUNY's new admissions examinations.
  New engineering faculty members Barbara Voss (center) and Borjana Mikic (far right) walk with students on the Smith College campus.
"The world would be different in all kinds of ways if there were more women in this profession," said John Connolly, provost and dean of the faculty. "Smith can't do that alone, but we can send a message here." Besides, he said, "the impact on the campus is significantly greater if you have a program of this kind. The New York Times doesn't put you on the front page for signing an agreement with Dartmouth."
National publicity was not the only payoff. Corporate sponsors including Boeing, Ford and Hewlett-Packard, anxious to recruit women engineers, have showered money and equipment on the campus. And there are expectations that Smith's already high caliber of students will be heightened even further with the ....(continue)
State Senators Charles Poochigian (left), a Republican, and John Burton, a Democrat, played key roles in passing California’s new student financial aid bill.  
By William Trombley
Senior Editor


When California Governor Gray Davis recently signed a bill that will double the size of the state's student financial aid program over the next five years, there was no hint of the long struggle to bring the reluctant governor to this point.
Indeed, speaking at a bill-signing ceremony on the campus of California State University, Los Angeles, Davis bragged about the legislation, calling it the "most ambitious financial aid program in America."
The plan assures that students with good grades and financial need will be rewarded with "Cal Grants" that pay for tuition and fees at the state's public colleges and universities and up to $9,708 per year for California students attending private institutions.
In the past, many students who were eligible for Cal Grants did not receive them because the money ran out. In the current academic year, 136,022 high school graduates were eligible...(continue)

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