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Funny... I don't feel dead! If you've forgotten JMC - You weren't there!

An academy for wandering minstrels
Equipping lifelong learners to pursue personal and professional interests in art, activism, law, education, business, medicine, international affairs, social services, science, management, media, and more.
* Michigan State University's first, most experimental, and most innovative residential college *


What features at JMC were most important, in your opinion, and should hence guide residential college planners today?

  • Residential College
  • A core of dedicated faculty
  • college - wide identity and activities
  • recognition by overall university administration of uniqueness of new "JMC"
  • recruitment of quality student body

- David Brigode (Student: 1969 - 1973)


The small, residential, liberal arts college with a foreign language and international studies emphasis permitting an individual field of concentration within a large university setting was ideal for what I and many like me desire in higher education. It provides the intimacy and closeness of the small school with the diverse choices of major university. The liberal arts and foreign language/international emphasis provides a broadening of the individual not available in most highly structured majors. The individually tailored field of concentration allows for unique, multidisciplinary combinations of knowledge in an emerging economy where a diversity of skills is vital.

- Paul M. Buehrle (Student: 1969 - 1973)


There should be a community created where the students, faculty and staff can interact together in a positive living and learning situation. There should be some common goals for the student that they must all experience, such as learning a new language, or some other course(s) that all must undertake as a part of their educational experience. The students should be a part of the educational planning process; whether it is planning upcoming courses for the next semester, or planning how a variety of courses can be shaped into a degree. They must be an active part of their learning process! Faculty must be allowed to teach in areas that excite and motive them, because those feelings will be passed on to the students. And faculty and staff must accessible in all aspects to the students.

- Dennis Hall (Student: 1965 - 1969)


Small classes. Proximity between living/study spaces. Group retreats (I remember Yankee Springs with particular fondness - I've been back since with colleagues for retreats. Always makes me smile.) Off-campus study requirement with broad focus.

- Mark Harris (Student: 1973 - 1977)


The opportunity for interaction between faculty and students, because the faculty was in such close proximity to the students' everyday living situation. As mentioned, I wish I had taken far more advantage of that opportunity.

I also found the field study requirement to be most worthwhile, all the way from the preparatory sessions to the after-field course. I didn't even do anything exotic (I was a teacher aide in a kindergarten in Phoenix), and I still found it very worthwhile.

- Steve (Taggart) Johgart (Student: 1973 - 1975)


Discussion was rampant. Pure, non-persuasive discussion. Planned and unplanned discussion should be encouraged to any degree possible.

- Leonard Kaufmann (Student: 1967 - 1969)


I feel as if I’m repeating myself, but the most important features would be:

  • The residential college community.
  • A four-year, continuing experience.
  • An international/global perspective, which is very important today, and which would identify the college’s reputation in a strong, unique way.
  • Liberal arts distribution requirements.
  • A faculty whose enthusiasm was kindled by "topic" rather than "survey" courses.

- Carl Koivuniemi (Student: 1965 - 1969)


The camaraderie of the students. Being a member of the first class we were all an experiment in progress. But we learned and grew together with our little college and we all came out with a world view and a sense that not every one lived like we had lived. I think that made me a person more open to new people and opportunities.

- Suzanne Levy (Student: 1965 - 1969)


Small class sizes, focus on writing, encourage students to complete research, help translate liberal arts education in to career skills so the students can survive financially. If for no other reason--for those students who are interested in making the big bucks so they can donate to the university!

I really don't think that the focus of a JMC has to be only on producing Allen Ginsbergs, academicians, writers or old hippies; it can also produce business people, attorneys, CPAs, real estate appraisers, etc. If it can learn to bring kids who want a liberal arts education AND a business-world career, I think there is a much greater chance of such a program surviving and be sustained by its alumni who have the money to do it. Also, then there will be a demand for such a program in addition to poultry science, packaging and mechanical engineering.

- Joe Milkes (Student: 1967 - 1971)


Residential nature; intensive immersion in learning experience; communitarian approach.

- Pamela Oestreicher (JMC faculty: 1976 - 1978)


The residential experience (obviously) is very important. The ability to design your own curriculum is really the core, in my opinion. I do NOT think a new residential college should be limited to liberal arts; JMC wasn’t and I think it was a richer place for it.

- Cleo Parker (Student: 1974 - 1978)


Intellectually, the international focus and the presence of so many sharp minds prepared me for a succession of interesting careers. I grew a lot socially in the residence college environment.

Whatever disciplinary or cross-disciplinary focus you choose for the college, follow it fervently and advertise it broadly and persuasively. Design courses that call for students to think across disciplinary lines and develop analytical and critical thinking skills they can apply for a country which seems in sore need of them. Take some risks and don’t repeat failures.

- Charles K. Roberts (Student: 1966 - 1970)


Living and working and eating with your group.

- Nancy R. Shaffer (Student: 1972 - 1975)


Graduate level, small size, seminar type classes where there was intensive interaction.

- Deborah Sirotkin Butler (JMC Student: 1966 - 1970)


I think the developing of a warm community of students and faculty is a very good thing for its own sake.  But beyond that, it greatly encourages thematic and pedagogic experimentation involving students and faculty. 

I don’t think broad themes like "international focus" matter so much; it is the smaller experiments taken by each student and faculty member that count. 

Create a college structure that helps individual students take responsibility in courses, in designing their own major, within the college and dormitory administration.

JMC was sometimes described as an experimental college when I attended it.  I do not doubt that Dean Rohman thought of "life long learning" as a repackaging of what made JMC work to make JMC more attractive in the universities eyes.  But from the inside, it felt like a large change in the experiment, with major changes in store for both staffing and composition of the student body.  Rather than a community, we were an experiment in an administrator’s career.  And so the students who had cared stopped participating, concentrated on their majors, and left. And they were increasingly not replaced.

It is better to think of a residential college as creating a community that enables smaller experiments.

- John Stick (Student: 1971 - 1975)


Having a plan, a supported plan, for the program is essential. If the university doesn’t support the plan, or takes it apart piece by piece as the years go by, it should not even be started. The living and learning emphasis, with some classes right in the dorm, added to the experience. The continuity of faculty, and the selection of those faculty as folks who believe in the process, is essential.

- Darlene Swartz-Hubsky (Student: 1969 - 1973)


SMALL CLASS SIZE!! I cannot overemphasize the importance of classes where there was a real chance to participate, indeed participation in class discussion was required and was an important part of the grading process.

- Robert Walter (Student: 1969 - 1974)


  • The 'sense of community' inculcated by the residential environment
  • Emphasis on essential skills development toward equipping a student for lifelong practical learning
  • A 'heuristic learning' paradigm in which undergrads had to exert to absorb basics while addressing advanced topics
  • Emphasis on writing and other forms of creative output
  • Practically unlimited capacity for 'customizing' each student's curriculum, up to and including the 'major' itself
  • Regular exposure to, and opportunity for close relations with, the core faculty
  • An emphasis on multidisciplinary perspective which has turned out to be more and more critical as time goes on
  • A persistent motif of internationality which induced a worldview that literally encompassed the whole world
  • An emphasis on 'doing' (i.e., action; participation) and hence 'learning by doing'

- Randy Whitaker (Student: 1969 - 1973)


I would say the small number of students in the classes, and the classes being relatively close to the living area are important. What I liked about JMC is that there was always a lot of room to express different opinions from what the professors taught, and that was actually encouraged a lot of time. I feel it is very important that the students be actual participants in the classes, not just people sitting there listening to a lecture.

- Larry Wickett (Student: 1965 - 1969; ongoing JMC experience til 1976)

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