Thursday, July 13, 2017

Diversity in Pedagogy

(Photo from
Mills College of Oakland has fired five tenured professors in a cost-cutting move [bold added].
Mills, one of only 36 women’s colleges remaining in the United States, is again deep in the hole. But unlike dozens of other women’s schools that have voted in recent decades to admit men to solve financial woes, Mills trustees made a controversial decision of a different kind this summer: They fired tenured professors, a move rare in academia and unprecedented at Mills.
With 1,400 students--about two-thirds undergraduates--Mills has long been known as an excellent private college. Wikipedia: [bold added]
In 2015, U.S. News & World Report ranked Mills sixth overall among colleges and universities in the Western U.S. (regional universities) and one of the top colleges and universities in the Western U.S. in "Great Schools, Great Prices," which evaluated the quality of institutions' academics against the cost of attendance. The Princeton Review ranks Mills as one of the Best 380 Colleges and one of the top "green" colleges in the U.S. Washington Monthly ranks Mills as one of the top 10 master's universities in the U.S.
I attended college in the 1970's, after men's universities, including mine, had gone co-ed. I wondered why the arguments that applied to admitting women to men's schools (enriched educational experience, diversity of opinion, enhanced preparation for "real life," social benefits, etc.) weren't relevant to men attending women's schools. The double standard was one of the reasons that I became disenchanted with the progressive agenda.

Today I'm glad that Mills has chosen to remain the way it is. Women's colleges are disappearing, now that the main reason for their existence has vanished:
  • The earliest women’s colleges were founded in the mid-19th century to give women access to higher education. This was a time when many people believed that it was unnecessary to educate women whose place was in the home, and that rigorous study could be unhealthy for women.
  • In 1960 there were about 230 women’s colleges.
  • In 2014, there were 47 women’s colleges in the U.S. and Canada.
  • There's a sameness to university education across the country: high costs, racially diverse student populations, women in the majority, leftist politics, and poor job prospects for non-STEM (science, technology, engineering, mathematics) majors.

    Schools that once catered to specific groups--blacks, women, military, Christian--have become rare. It's important to preserve them, not just for students who wish to learn in a different environment but also because innovation springs from a diversity in pedagogy. Two cheers for Mills.

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