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July-August 2011

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Plus Ça Change: Supporting—Or Not—Student Success

2011. “The Leah Meyer Austin Institutional Student Success Leadership Award recognizes El Paso Community College's (EPCC) ‘strong presidential leadership and broad institutional engagement, their breadth of successful programs, and the pervasive impact of their programs on the community. EPCC is showing the nation that high-level commitment and well-focused, evidence-based decision-making can lead to substantial improvements in student success and completion.’”

-William Trueheart, Achieving the Dream President and CEO

2010. “In addition to the tutoring, academic advising and professional mentoring each student receives, [the Illinois Education Foundation also offers] a support system not found in most scholarship programs. … ‘If your kid is sick or you're teetering on a fine line financially, we step in and become a support mechanism. You can be as motivated as you want to be, but if your child care doesn't show up and you miss an exam and then your professor says, “so what,” we will show up on your doorstep and say “let's go speak to your professor,” and we do.’”

-Robin Redmond, Executive Director, Illinois Education Foundation

 2001. “In the for-profit environment the success of the students is the top priority for faculty, administrators, and support staff. They know that the customer is king. In these institutions, student success is interpreted to mean both academic success, as measured by successful progression through and completion of a program of study, and career launching upon graduation, as measured by placement in a job related to the program of study at a good salary, preferably one that offers opportunity for career advancement.”

-Richard Ruch in Higher Education, Inc.

1971. An interview between the social science department chairman at the University of California, Berkeley, and a female candidate for graduate study: “[Y]ou would probably not get into graduate school. If you did, you would meet so much hostility that I doubt if you would stay in. Most women do not finish their work, and we couldn't take a chance on you. We don't want women in the department anyway, and certainly not older women.”

-Report on Higher Education, (aka The Newman Report)

1960. “He was the first Negro ever accepted at [Claremont Men's College]—but [Phillip Peoples] had no clothes to go (‘and I mean no clothes—just what he had on,’ says Principal McClelland). Teachers anted up the cash, and at Claremont, where he has had enough to eat for the first time in his life, [Phillip] has averaged better than B for three years. He will go on for an engineering degree at Stanford. Whenever Phil runs out of cash, McClelland & Co. pass the hat again: ‘No use putting them into college unless you work to keep them there.’”

-Time Magazine

1949. “In all the time that I was there, I never quite escaped a feeling of isolation. The faculty was always fair, and my fellow students were generally friendly. Still, I felt that I was being observed across campus and by much of the nation, watching to see if I succeeded as a student. … I felt I must do well as the symbolic black student. … I suppose my primary feeling during the three-year law school experience was the feeling of aloneness. … I was alone even though I was surrounded by more than five hundred fellow students.”

-Ada Lois Sipuel Fisher, Petitioner in Sipuel v. Board of Regents of University of Oklahoma

1908. “Her [Alice Freeman Palmer's] memory was good and her observation accurate. … But of at least equal importance with the knowledge acquired in college is the influence on a student of the personality of his teachers. … Of familiar intercourse with her teachers I suspect she enjoyed more than is generally obtainable to-day. … These men enriched her outside the classroom and became her lifelong friends. While she was in college they watched over her carefully, and when she went forth they opened before her the difficult doors of the world.”

-The Life of Alice Freeman Palmer,written by her husband

1855. “In the oration on ‘Self Reliance,’ [Mr. Irving S. Campbell] observed that all persons expected to be successful in life. To obtain that success was the object of continuous and ardent hopes and longings, but it could only be accomplished by self reliance, by a firm determination, on a man's part, to do something worthy of his day and generation. … Circumstances may indeed favor a man; friends may assist him; but if he does not nerve his soul for the contest—if he folds his hands instead of arming for the conflict—he will fail, as hundreds have done before him.”

-Irving S. Campbell, Commencement Address, New York University


1. (February 8 2011) El Paso Community College Receives National Award., News Release, Achieving the Dream: Community Colleges Count.

2. Fisher, A. L. S. (1996) A matter of Black and White: The autobiography of Ada Lois Sipuel Fisher., University of Oklahoma Press., Norman, OK.

3. Newman, F. et al. (1971) Report on Higher Education., U.S. Department of Health, Education, and Welfare: U.S. Government Printing Office

4. Orations—Graduating Addresses, etc. Commencement of the New York University (June 28 1855) New York Daily Times, pp. 2.

5. Palmer, G. H. (1908) The life of Alice Freeman Palmer., Houghton, Mifflin and Company., Boston, MA.

6. Pevtzow, L. (September 10 2010) Illinois Education Foundation Creates a Safety Net for Community College Students.. Chicago Tribune., Retrieved from

7. Ruch, R. S. (2001) Higher Ed, Inc.: The Rise of the for-Profit University., Johns Hopkins University Press., Baltimore, MD.

8. Wasted Talent (November 21 1960) Time

Lara K. Couturier is a program director at Jobs for the Future. She previously served as the interim principal investigator and director of research for the Futures Project: Policy for Higher Education in a Changing World.

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