Spacer Spacer Spacer Spacer Spacer Spacer Spacer Spacer Spacer Spacer Spacer Spacer Spacer Spacer
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 would you expect as a residential college experience for your own children now, given your own experience in JMC? What would you like that is continuous with your own experience? What would you like that would be different or new?


I would hope they could develop a closeness with their fellow or sister students that was integrated into the courses of study offered. I hope they don't have to "commute" to classes.

I would hope that they could "sample the smorgasbord" of course offerings like I did.

However, I would hope they don't attend school during a time of political crisis which distracts from their studies.

- David Brigode (Student: 1969 - 1973)


I would have loved for my sons to have the residential college experience I had, especially my older son presently in law school, but the residential college within the greater university like I had is unavailable in Texas and the southwest. It required a choice between the small liberal arts college and the large university only, so we chose the latter. I really feel that the ideal is the model of the residential college where one establishes their college fundamentals in small classes with a group of fellow students and then builds either a traditional or interdisciplinary major from the larger university. A language requirement and foreign or independent studies are important broadening experiences and should be required. I would also require computer proficiency as well, for this is a vital tool all educated graduates will need.

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


I would expect that for at least the first two years of their experience they would be housed in one location where they would also receive their learning experience. I would expect that they would be required to take an intensive language learning experience that involved learning about the social, political and economic situation of the country where the language is spoken. I would expect that the classes would be very small, no more than 15 for language classes and no more than 20 for other classes. I would expect that my children, as students, would be offered an opportunity to continue their education of the language in a country where it was spoken, and that they would be placed into a situation where they would have use their new language skills, rather than English. I would expect that a residential college experience would challenge their understandings about the world in which we live. I would expect that such an experience would prepare them to think for themselves, and to question the way things are done versus the way things could be done better.

I would like to see the educational system allow students to "fall on their faces" without having it impact on their overall educational direction. In many ways the educational system places to high a value on the "grade point", versus allowing the students to take risks and perhaps learn something they otherwise would not experience. Once most people graduate from college, their grades are never a major part of obtaining jobs in this world. A much more important factor is their ability to communicate well.

- Dennis Hall (Student: 1965 - 1969)


While I'm sure that the facilities and course offerings are what attract students to a program, what makes the experience so beneficial (and unique) is the close interaction with highly skilled, experienced faculty in a setting where it is not possible to disguise lack of interest or lack of preparation. It seems to me that one of the banes of undergrad education (I've been teaching first year writing for more than twenty years now) is our lumping together of those two conditions). The dialogue among students (which, in my memory often continued between and after classes in the lounges, hallways, and cafeteria) is the try-works where attitudes and ideas form.

- Mark Harris (Student: 1973 - 1977)


For my daughter, I would hope for the same strength and vitality.

I would hope for an experience that would encourage the development of self-confidence and the ability to see life as variations on a theme.

In spite of the wonderful free-form quality of JMC, I would like to see administrators or overseers who could evaluate and provide encouragement and direction as needed and even intervene when lives and experiences had the potential to go completely over the top.

- Leonard Kaufmann (Student: 1967 - 1969)


I do not have children, but I think I can still answer this question. A residential college experience would establish a nurturing academic community for my imaginary children that would be more hit-or-miss if they were students in the university at large. I would like the same dorm, the international/global perspective, the focus on writing, the small classes that examined topics in depth, the course distribution requirements that ensured a liberal arts education.

What I would like that would be different from my experience is a better, more rigorous senior "capstone" requirement/option. In my senior year we had a senior seminar that examined an issue ("the rights of man") from interdisciplinary perspectives, with different faculty members each week. For myself, it wasn’t entirely successful because it wasn’t focused and rigorous enough. It wasn’t "pulled together" and it was too easy to drift from week to week. Something like a senior thesis, a project by a small group, or a simulation exercise would have been more valuable.

- Carl Koivuniemi (Student: 1965 - 1969)


I have a son in high school and as he shows great interest in history and politics, I think James Madison might be a perfect choice for him. Unfortunately he currently desires to attend college in a city, so who knows what will happen. But I do think he would blossom in a place like JMC. Again, living with the people in your classes and nearness to faculty are very important parts of the experience.

- Suzanne Levy (Student: 1965 - 1969)


As one who is childless, I cannot say.

- William McGarvey (Student: 1966 - 1971)


Can't speak to my children-- their needs, interests, etc. are theirs not mine.

Regarding changes-- it might have been more productive for me personally if I could have had a better understanding of where the different fields would lead (or not) career wise and how to translate particular intellectual endeavors into career choices and being able to pay a mortgage, etc. In general, based on my very limited knowledge, universities do a very poor job of translating academic studies/fields into career action plans for students. The impression I get is that students are sent to the career center and left to figure it out. I think the toughest thing after discovering what you like to do is to translate it in a job/career that you can make a living. Also, I think it would be very worthwhile to help students in being able to understand how career choices equate to earning power and income levels. This might entail having staff who are in "the outside" world (unlike a lot of liberal arts faculty) and knowledgeable about career paths and how to take the knowledge that has been accumulated, re-packaged it into career skills and learn how to find a job that utilizes this. THIS, imho, would be a MAJOR enhancement for a program that would put it well above how universities deal with students when they are on their way out. Particularly, with a JMC program, this process is much, much tougher than students coming out of, for example, the packaging program. They are well prepared to make a living due to the type of program, unlike the liberal arts grads. Just thinking out loud, if universities were more successful in getting their liberal arts graduates into decent jobs, they would attract more into the programs. But, I don't think universities are good at this. The sciences, b-school, and applied programs are good at this. There is no reason liberal arts programs can't do better, imo. Then, students (and their parents) wouldn't be afraid of spending major bucks on an education and coming out unemployable.

- Joe Milkes (Student: 1967 - 1971)


I was not a student at jMC, but I would want my kid to be able to live and learn in an intensive, communitarian environment. The learning goals would have to be concrete and clearly defined. When I was there, the first was true(-ish) but the second was not.

- Pamela Oestreicher (JMC faculty: 1976 - 1978)


I don’t have children, so I’m not comfortable answering this one; I for one was quite happy with the experience and am not sure that I’d know how to suggest changing it for "today’s generation".

- Cleo Parker (Student: 1974 - 1978)


As was true for those of us at JMC I would hope that students in the new residence college will accept a considerable measure of responsibility for governance of their community. While I met people with backgrounds far different from my own at JMC, I would hope that the student body exhibits even more diversity, perhaps including undergraduates from foreign countries.

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


The value of the small college experience was so important to me that I have helped my own children to attend smaller colleges. It is critical that undergrads receive genuine, valuable attention of senior faculty.

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


Avoiding omnibus survey classes was a major plus. Jumping right into masters thesis level writing challenges worked for me.

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


I like the idea that my daughter might be able to join this type of community to study, and learn, while growing through her college years. My son, who has already graduated college, lived in a dorm for two years at U of M, but did not have any commonality with his room mates, his floor mates, or for that matter anyone in his dorm in particular. That doesn’t mean that he didn’t have friends, but those around him did not share his interests. I think that having the ability to share time both in and out of class with others who are interested in the same things is beneficial, especially in a large university environment. It is a big adjustment to go from home to a big university. Some kids adjust more easily than others. I think the residential college helps immensely with the adjustment period because you are not so much on your own in the big university, but with a group in a smaller setting within the college within the university. I never felt lost in those first years like some of the other kids from my high school

What would you like that is continuous with your own experience?

Again, having some commonality of interest and some courses that bring even those students with different long term directions together during the first two years of college life seems to be quite beneficial.

What would you like that would be different or new?

Of course, nicer dorms and better food would be good. But seriously, I never felt that the guidance part of JMC was there for me. I think that the squeaky wheel got the grease in those times. Perhaps there should have been more work on the part of the guidance counselors to meet with all students on a regular basis.

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


I would not change much. I would like to see:

  • A strong, rigorous writing requirement.
  • A sense of community.
  • Small class size.
  • A lot if interaction between students and faculty, in and out of the classroom.
  • Teach them research and thinking skills so that they can learn on their own.
  • No survey courses.
  • Throw them in off the deep end. Most of them will survive, the rest can go back to the University at large.

- Robert Walter (Student: 1969 - 1974)


I'm not a parent. However, I have extensive experience with children of family and friends (with whom I’m often asked to discuss educational goals and options), I have lots of experience with training and collaborating with students fresh out of college, and finally I have experience in counseling and evaluating graduate students.

When JMC was founded in 1965, it was still the case that one could graduate into, and retire from, one and the same company. By the time JMC was dissolved in 1979, that single-employer model was becoming a rarity. By the end of the 1980's it was estimated that the average American would have at least 5 different jobs during his / her working lifetime. By my estimate, I'm at 9 and climbing. I always tell teenagers overstressed about vocational decisions, "Relax - no one I consider interesting is doing what he or she thought he'd be doing as of age 18." Even within a single discipline or trade, continuity is obtained only through recurrent retraining and adaptation. In other words, the best overall preparation for today's working life is learning how to learn. The details of current 'state of the art' can be trained (and re-trained) in relatively short order.

Those positions worthy of long-term commitment (e.g., law, medicine, research, teaching) generally require post-baccalaureate studies, thus reinforcing the notion that learning how to learn must be the initial pedagogical objective.

As such, the #1 goal of a new program should be to develop general learning skills. This is the most effective way to make a 'long-term investment' in tomorrow's workforce. Enforcing a narrow emphasis on today's practices and knowledge is the equivalent of 'day trading' - speculation geared solely to the immediate circumstances, and a tactic whose inherent risks render it unlikely to ensure sustained gains.

The #2 goal should be instilling an appreciation for the multidisciplinary context in which most interesting work is conducted today. My experience is that the rare (and hence most valuable) personnel are those people who can 'bridge the seams' between fields and their respective narrow perspectives on a problem at hand. For example, my educational background spans social sciences (anthropology and psychology at JMC; informatics in my PhD) and hardcore technology (computer science and mathematics in my BS and MS work). My ascribed value is associated with an ability to design and engineer information systems tailored to the functions and needs of individual workers and groups of arbitrary size. I couldn’t be as effective as I am using only one of my 'qualifications' (i.e., disciplinary credentials). I'm valuable not because of expertise in one or the other, but in my ability to interrelate both. JMC taught me the basics of multidisciplinary work, and it was therefore in JMC that I began to learn how to 'bridge the seams'.

The #3 goal would be to afford students the kind of curricular flexibility we enjoyed in JMC - particularly with respect to independent study and customized majors. This essentially follows from the first two goals I nominated above.

The #4 goal would be to give students exposure to and understanding of languages, cultures, and histories outside their native American context. A range of issues and events critical to American life - from global outsourcing to terrorist threats - clearly illustrate both the fact that our lives at home are increasingly intertwined with trends abroad and the risk in benignly ignoring anything beyond our borders.

- Randy Whitaker (Student: 1969 - 1973)


I would like for them to have: the opportunity to be close to the teachers; the fact that you are living with the same people you are in class with; and the chance to get to know people both as classmates and as people that you hang out with most. I was in the first class of JMC, and some of the classes were really struggling just to be different, and really didn't have much value as far as using it in a job. That's not to say these weren't great classes; they really made you think and were taught by brilliant people in many cases. I don't know, maybe more classes that are based on fact rather than philosophy might be better in a new JMC type program

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

Spacer Spacer Spacer Spacer Spacer Spacer Spacer Spacer Spacer Spacer Spacer Spacer Spacer Spacer


Spacer Spacer Spacer Spacer Spacer Spacer Spacer Spacer Spacer Spacer Spacer Spacer Spacer Spacer
Sparty Logo Michigan State University

neither sanctions, sponsors, nor has any affiliation with this Webspace

Editor and Site Steward:
Randy Whitaker (JMC '74)


Presented By: Enola Gaia.

Randy Pic
Spacer Spacer Spacer Spacer Spacer Spacer Spacer Spacer Spacer Spacer Spacer Spacer Spacer Spacer