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Suzanne Spreadbury Transcript

[CHRIS FINLAY]: As you mentioned we’re sort of crossing a large


spectrum of -- of the design -- or sorry, the educational experience and
you know she said you had a -- you covered a particular interesting
space and might be some of those you talk to, to start to fill in our
knowledge about that. So, I wonder if you could just maybe start by
telling us a little bit about you and what you’re up to and the program
that you run.

[SUZANNE SPREADBURY]: Sure. So, you know, we are the


continuing education kind of arm of Harvard University. So, we’re
charged to opening up Harvard to the local community and through
around the globe. Most of our students are working and going to
school part-time, usually taking just one or two courses in the evening,
more balancing family and work and so a lot of -- so I’m in charge of --
mostly I’m in charge of the undergraduate degree program. So, I work
with students who maybe have gone to school for one year or one and
a half years and had to -- to leave school for whatever reason and are
now back. They’re usually working full-time and they want to finish
their undergraduate degree and they want a high quality experience,
it’s going to be their time, their money, they wanted to be something
significant so they’re choosing to come to Harvard and to do it in the
evening and through distance education of course we’re seeing like
other schools are large increasing enrollments around distance ed.
And certainly not just from people from other states and other
countries. We’re right here in Cambridge we want their convenience of
being able to study online and still work and go on business trips and
care for children and all that sort of things.

[SUZANNE SPREADBURY]: So, I do oversee a lot of the professional


masters programs as well and these are people who already have a
bachelor’s degree and they’re coming back for some professional
education, the master’s degree and environmental management or IT
or easy in studies or journalism things like that. Who are either
changing careers or who have reached to point in their career where
they need some more credentialing to move up, or simply interested in
the topic and once we’re in more -- but you know I think a lot of people
are thinking about the environment more and want to change into that
or thinking about journalism and wanting to make an impact in, either
the governments and commenting and so and we provide high quality
education at a fairly affordable price. We have a lot of our instructors
come from the university or they come from local institution so like MIT
and Brandeis and they come and they teach in the evening. And our --
and our course of action it’s pretty much based on what the instructor
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wants to teach, we don’t have a core curriculum that we go out and
hire people to teach we say which our expertise, what would you like
to teach, we’re looking for something in environmental management,
what can you bring to the table and so, you know we have a great --
what’s wonderful about it is that you have a lot of students who want
to be here and then you have a lot of faculty who want to be here
teaching courses that they really want to teach so it’s great -- it’s
wonderful synergy in the classroom.

[CHRIS FINLAY]: Nice. That sounds really exciting.

[SUZANNE SPREADBURY]: Yeah, it’s really and, you know I think


what makes us very unique is that we’re open enrollment so, you can
come and just take a course or you need to do today is the first day of
registration actually so you can jump online and find the course you’re
interested in and just register. We don’t require anything else, if you
want to join a program you need to take courses for that first and do
well. So, like for the undergraduate program you have to take three
courses, earn grades to D minus or higher in those three courses, one
of them is a required writing class, the other two could be whatever
you’d like. And as long as you can do the work then you’ll be admitted
into our program, we don’t look at CTs or prior college work we say,
you know, democratically if you can do the work then we want to admit
you.

[SUZANNE SPREADBURY]: Most of our students are 31, 32 years old


looking at a CT courses, not something that would be at all informative
to the process.

[CHRIS FINLAY]: Yeah.

[SUZANNE SPREADBURY]: And, also students have been to school


ten -- ten years ago or so, I mean again looking at those kinds of
transcripts to evaluate students teams not at all what these people are
today, they’re very different people. And so we want to judge them
where they are and where they are is -- is what they can do now and
we certainly want to make sure that they have strong writing and
research skills, so a lot of the masters program require a research
course at the beginning as well to make sure that they’re entering the
program with strong writing and critical thinking and research goals
and our writing courses are small, they’re limited to 15 students so
people getting a lot of attention. So, it’s a perfect kind of gateway into
the program and you know students really responded as they -- and
especially adult students they want to be judge in who they are now
and not who they were when they were 15, 16 and it’s -- it’s, you
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know, is a perfect match and it works very, very well.

[SUZANNE SPREADBURY]: I think one of the big things that we -- I


mean we have one of the highest retentions rates, I mean in the end of
graduate program I’m looking at around an 88 to 89 percent retention
when we get our students they stay, they don’t leave -- they had the
quality of the teaching, the academic advising and the ease that we
make it for them, giving their working schedules, you know, they find it
a way to complete their degrees so I mean I think that speaks a lot to
the success of the program, you know.

[CHRIS FINLAY]: It’s very exciting based on what -- what we’ve


discovered in our last month, it’s a -- it’s a pretty sharp program
you’ve got going. How -- can I ask how you guys were able to come to
-- to develop this program to make it so accessible and dynamic and ---

[SUZANNE SPREADBURY]: Well, I mean we have, you know, we’re


lucky that, you know, at the turns of century a lot of innovation was
going on around education there was kind of a whole revaluation
where people were saying, you know, these big universities need to
start to getting back to the community and luckily so we’re -- we’re
celebrating our centennial this year so we have been around for a 100
years.

[SUZANNE SPREADBURY]: So, you know at the beginning president


of Harvard was very much part of this movement and he have
established the extension school. And from the beginning we were
designed as an undergraduate program. So, with open enrollment
classes and we were kind of charge with the idea of pretty much
educating teachers. There was a lot of people, a lot of population was
growing and there wasn’t enough teachers and people needed to work
as teachers and get proficient at it. So, we were -- that’s pretty much
our history.

[CHRIS FINLAY]: So -- sorry, the -- so the extension schools has been


around for 100 years?

[SUZANNE SPREADBURY]: A 100 years, yeah and ---

[CHRIS FINLAY]: Wow! And what could you tell me the philosophy of
that is like, do you guys have like a mission statement or something
that’s guided you through that 100 years?

[SUZANNE SPREADBURY]: Yeah, I mean I think the mission has


been to, you know, kind of open the gates of the resources of this very
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rich university to local working people.

[CHRIS FINLAY]: Yes.

[SUZANNE SPREADBURY]: And so that’s what we have been doing.


And as we have grown, I mean certainly with a very small enterprise,
you know what 10, 15 courses, you know, a couple of 100 people and
now we’re offering 650 courses, you know, we enroll over 15 -- you
know, around 13,000 or 14,000 students a year from 89 different
countries and you know, so I mean it’s certainly the expands, you
know, you know 25, 35 years ago continuing education was just not as
popular, but certainly now, you know going back to school, finishing
your degree and, you know our master’s programs came in around the
70s, so we started off with the masters of liberal arts in 1974, ‘75 and
then -- then we started adding, we’re pretty much of liberal arts school
very much after the -- you know, kind of mission of Harvard College, is
that at the end of graduate level you get a balance liberal arts degree
and is that the graduate program where you get a more professional
degree and but we offered the masters of liberal arts for many, many
years, 20 or so years and then we started adding some professional
degrees. So it’s a masters of liberal arts in environmental
management. I’m not sure if the liberal arts in information technology.
And we kind of built on the courses that we were getting from faculty.
We had a lot of IT people came here so it just made sense that we
could offer Masters in NIT. So I mean it is that’s our principal -- our
principal is obviously as all continuing education schools are -- we also
provide supported funding too to the -- through the parent organization
we get a lots of money back to Harvard, so they can, you know, we
help build buildings, we help, you know, fund the library we, you know,
we do things to help the infrastructure of the college, so that’s what
our mission, our mission also is to make sure that Ph.D. candidates
have teaching opportunities a lot of our, you know, TAs and teaching
fellows and things like that our Ph.D. candidates at the college so we’re
hiring those people. It’s a place where faculty at the college can also
innovate their courses, try something online, do something different
here, try other course. So it’s kind of works like that. But you know, I
mean we’re lucky we’re in Boston I mean there’s a -- there’s a lot of
people who want to teach and there’s a lot of colleges, I mean
universities where we can pull from and so it’s -- it’s very helpful where
we are.

[CHRIS FINLAY]: Yeah, it’s a nice -- nice resource pool too.

[SUZANNE SPREADBURY]: Yeah. And it wouldn’t working a lot of


others but ---
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[CHRIS FINLAY]: It’s interesting. So, are there other, I mean I’m
really festinated by what you guys have been able to build and it
seems like you’re really putting sort of what -- what we’re starting to
call like the needs of the student come first rather than and it really
making the discussion about the institution it’s sort of saying, well, you
know having all these, like how the students need it, which doesn’t
actually seem to be a guiding principal for a lot of universities. I -- I
would think that people would sort of have inspire to -- to your
program in a way. And I wonder if there is places that you’re working
with or -- or people who also find to be working at your level of
engagement ---

[SUZANNE SPREADBURY]: I think that, you know, like, you know


traditional programs are -- were traditional problematic but you know
continuing ed programs have to be innovative or much more so then
full-time day programs where you have a captured audience right you
have only so many people that you could admit try to admit all those
people and they’re -- once they are here, they are here. You don’t
have the need to be innovative once students are there it’s not as --
where continuing ed not only that you want to, you know, have people
-- here you want people to stay and come back and take more courses
and you also want them to finish their degrees. And you also want
them to tell their friends to come and you know, so it’s -- it’s much
more entrepreneurial, it’s much more of the slightly more business on
model and that you, you know, you got to figure out where the
students are at and how we can do ever something of quality, you
know, different times, different I mean you know different modes and
you also need to think more than just logo you have to think, I mean
no continue education program is going to grow by just thinking that
they’re going to capture the local audiences especially in
Massachusetts it’s just way too much competition.

[SUZANNE SPREADBURY]: You know, you need to think about how


you’re going to get students in California, in Illinois and Wisconsin and
-- and you know, in Europe as well. So you have to be just more
interested in that and of course I think people who are trying to
continuing at I just feel a little bit more, you know, open and
democratic about its case and its -- I mean I don’t -- I came to what
thinking that you know someone at 15 who you know is a superstar
and they had parents who are really supportive of that, you know, gets
to go on to a place like Harvard, right?

[SUZANNE SPREADBURY]: But it’s you know you’re working class


and your -- your parents don’t understand anything about college and
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you want to superstar at -- in high school because you didn’t have that
kind of support but you’re very smart and you want to learn more, you
know where do you go? I mean they’re -- we’re here to make sure that
those people don’t get lost. I mean they have a lot to contribute, they
have a lot to -- they want to learn a lot about things they don’t -- and
also because our program is focused on a liberal arts as well as
professionals and our students come not just to learn business or to
learn accounting, you know, they want to learn about, you know,
catholic literature and you know, ancient medieval art and you know,
the things that they feel they were missed out on was gone through.
And I also think sometimes people think of continuing students as
people who weren’t able to cut it the first time around and that’s
certainly not our experience I mean we just hear the stories about how
difficult it was to go to school right out of high school. And how, you
know, a parent guide and they had to go home to work or, you know,
or they just -- they knew it wasn’t as meaningful for them, they -- they
felt like I’m here because someone told me I should be here and I’m --
and I’m really not making any really solid meaning out of this
experience, so let me go out and work and see if I can find what I really
want to do and I think that takes a lot of courage to say I’m not going
to follow the crowd, I’m actually going to step out and try to figure this
out and then come back when I’m really understanding it where those
people are going to go? So I mean there’s sense that we’re here for all
that we’re here for the people who decided to, you know, be ballet
dancers and couldn’t go to school and the people who, you know, the
parents guide and lost money and you know there is a whole group of
people that need to be educated not just the ones that, you know,
goes to the track the way that we -- we like people to go through. And
so there’s a commitment to making education more accessible, but
there’s also the need that we have to, you know, we have to fund
ourselves, you know, we’re not getting any kind of money from
endowment money or any of that I mean most continuing programs
you have to survive on your own. So, you have to be innovated, you
have to find the way or else you just not going to survive and you know
the parent organization is not going to, you know, spend money on
something like this -- this has to be a moneymaker for them, for them
to support it. So you know, we need to make sure that we are -- where
the students are for those reasons.

[CHRIS FINLAY]: Makes a lot of sense, do you want to have


something?

[ALEX TROITZSCH]: Yeah, I just -- Hi, Suzan this is Alex.

[SUZANNE SPREADBURY]: Hey.


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[ALEX TROITZSCH]: I just would like to ask you like your students,
are they looking for degree like -- say like finishing the bachelors or
masters degree or do you also have like large number of students that
think about life long earning that stay actually longer than?

[SUZANNE SPREADBURY]: Yeah, I would -- I would say that most of


our students are that, most of our students are coming taking one or
two courses for their own enrichment or for their professional
development. So we have a lot of -- you know, most of our students
are already have a bachelors degree so I think it’s like 75 percent
already have a bachelors degree and then we have another 20 percent
that have a masters degree and you know like five or seven percent
that have Ph.D. So it’s a pretty educated population in general that
come to the Harvard Extension School. And yeah, a large segment,
you know 70 percent or so are here just for their own benefit taking
one or two courses either in, you know, as I said liberal arts area that
they always want to learn a foreign language or creative writing class
you know, art history, you know government maybe they want to learn
more about the supreme court and what’s happening there, and
tautology, you know, whatever as well as IT and accounting and
management we have all of that as well so, yeah there is a large pool
of people the majority of them I would say are here to -- to do that and
then we have about 10 to 20 percent of the students who are here to
finish a degree or to start a degree just, you know, the masters
program all of it has to be done here so you have to complete your
whole masters program here. But the bachelors program we’re
transferring about half of the credits so you can finish the degree
completion program. You can start from graduate -- and most
students come in with about a year and a half of transfer credits but
we see students that all agents here one other things is that we don’t
say you have to be at certain age like a lot of continuing ed programs
you have to be 25 to earn a degree and least you know we have kids
here, we have 15-year-old, 13-year-old, we have 8-year-old, you know
we’re -- we’re very much back away from the idea that we’re going to
put a -- put a selection process on so we’re here you come you can do
the work and then you’re admitted and wherever you are, whoever you
are if you’re a home school kid, you want to get their associates
degree then we’re here for you as long as you can do the work if
you’re you know, retired in 75 and you never went to school before
we’re here if you can do the work. And we make sure that our -- that
our faculty members hold them to high standards and they’re
surrounded by people who are educated or surrounded by people who
are here because they want to be here and they’re putting in the
efforts and they kind of rubs off on everybody, you know, the level of
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academic achievement arises I mean everyone is here surrounded by
Cambridge, Harvard, MIT, there’s a sense you’re walking in the -- the
same pathways that you know William James and Henry David Thoreau
walks through I mean there is that that rising of expectations that
happens here at Harvard that may not happen in other places that we
also capitalize on students, you know, not all of them but the majority
of them rise to the occasion and do the work.

[CHRIS FINLAY]: It’s really interesting to -- to hear about sort of


setting the expectation and it’s something we’ve a heard a lot about
actually in -- and not really directly actually or overtly stated, it’s a --
that this setting of that expectation and then both of teachers and
student kind of rising to meet that and understanding what they’re
engaging with it’s a really powerful component of -- of the learning
assets.

[SUZANNE SPREADBURY]: It is, I think that it’s you know, it’s hard,
you know, I think especially if you’re at a place a lot of students were
there just because someone said it was a good idea to be there.

[SUZANNE SPREADBURY]: You know, I think that it’s -- it’s you


know kind of a natural progression to go from high school to college for
a lot of people and they’re a little bit lost and, you know, it’s hard to
motivate people and there is also a lot of schools put a lot of
requirements on students so they have to take this class and have to
take that class and so sometimes they’re in classes that they don’t
really want to be in and they’re not really sure why they’re there and
then you have faculty who’re teaching in classes that someone told
them they had to teach and maybe they’re not that interested in it. So
it, you know, those that type of dynamic and I’m sure it works and
people find the way to make it work, you know, we don’t have enough,
we don’t have a lot of that I mean we have students who are here
because they’re putting their money down and their time and we have
faculty again who’re -- who’re teaching the courses that they want to
teach. So sometimes what makes it difficult right is that if you’re
interested in art history we may not have a course that our art history
courses every year maybe because someone will be teaching
something different. So I mean it’s good and it’s contrive on that
dynamic that maybe a really new interesting class that’s you know,
coming up and with something and -- but we’ll have in one year we
wouldn’t have it the next. So I mean that there is, obviously there is to
make it that where you know, you can’t, you can’t commit to the idea
that I’m going to do this set of core curriculum and it’s going to be
there all the time and our catalogue changes about 25 to 30 percent
every year. And there is always new courses coming and other
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courses leaving. You know so it really as it based on the faculty
proposing a course that they want to teach. Certainly there’re core
requirements that we have for our programs that we have to fulfill but I
mean those -- those faculties have already bought into that from the
beginning and so they’re there, they want to be there so.

[CHRIS FINLAY]: It’s great. So considering what seems to be the --


the power and student centeredness of this approach and sort of the
description of and -- and what we have also agree with and then
covered sort of students ending up and places they don’t really
understand their learning things they don’t understand. What do you
think or do you think it’s possible to just sort of spread the approach
you guys have to sort of the traditional “colleges” and do you think
that would work challenges what are your -- what are your thoughts?

[SUZANNE SPREADBURY]: I mean I don’t know, I know I haven’t -- I


have never really worked in traditional programs.

[SUZANNE SPREADBURY]: So, I just know what I read and I mean


every application essay that I read, you know, I -- we admit people on
bachelors of a 100 or so, you know, I read every application, essay and
you know this -- this overall feeling of I didn’t know what I was there
for, I didn’t -- I didn’t, you know, I was there because someone thought
-- I thought it was a good idea and I didn’t know what I was doing. It’s
a theme that people have and -- and that’s why they stop so I mean I
don’t know what it is to try to, you know, maybe people you know, are
not prepared, they’re not from high school to -- to make that transition,
I mean some of them make it perfectly and it’s a great time for them
to be going to school. But for others it’s not and I, you know, I think
that if we could, you know, lessen up the pressure that you know, at 18
you’re supposed to be somewhere and at 21 you’re supposed to be
finished with something and you know if we all could deal a little bit
more on brace of that lifelong learning I think people would be more
happy about it but I don’t know, I mean I -- I always in my mind one
thing is that, you know, why we -- we tried to settle people into majors
all the time like you have to choose a major, you can’t be undecided
forever and you have to choose a major. And -- and I think it’s kind of
at that point where I hear a lot of students said well I didn’t know what
I wanted to be and I, you know, I didn’t know what major to choose so I
decided to leave. And so I would think that that would be a place
where some thought would be, you know, couldn’t people just be
generalist and graduate with a general, you know, degree. Why is it
that they need to -- to be shuffled into these -- these categories and
these lots and that they have to choose a major and have to submit --
you know, complete so many core requirements. I mean can’t we say
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that people need to graduate with some writing, you know, strong
writing skills and public speaking skills and some resource skills, and
then they get better cross the curriculum and they can decide and they
can put it in about what they want to do I mean unless you’re going to
be a doctor or you know some -- some things we really need to have
these core courses there should be a place for people who -- who not
want to commit I think maybe that would help.

[CHRIS FINLAY]: It’s -- I like that people who don’t want to commit, I
couldn’t help with thinking of that all the men in the world.

[SUZANNE SPREADBURY]: Yes.

[CHRIS FINLAY]: Except for me though, of course. So you know -- it


must be such a different learning experience for the -- the people
you’re working with, I wonder if there were times or moments for you
where you’re sort of interacting with students and they express sort of
a revelation or how learning could be different or anything like that, is
there anything particularly pointing that -- that’s come up for you with
the student?

[SUZANNE SPREADBURY]: Let’s see. I think what happened here a


lot is, is that students do kind of have this epiphany that they are
smart and they are college material and not only that they are publicly
graduate school material and you know a lot of our students, you
know, are -- are unsure about themselves, you know, and when they
go through this process they start to gain a lot of academic confidence
and they want to go on to school I mean I hear a lot of people talk
about, well now I want to get my masters degree I want to get my
Ph.D. And sometimes that’s not realistic because they’re at an age
where that makes it really hard to do then they’re also probably at
salary.

[SUZANNE SPREADBURY]: Some of our students are probably


making more than, than the beginning, professors making you know, I
mean or you know to go back into that full-time student lifestyle with
family and things like that. I mean not that our students don’t do it,
they do but you know it’s a much -- the reality of that hits them after
graduation when they start exploring some of these things that maybe
it is a little too late, it kind of turn their life upside down for some of
these academic aspirations and they find a middle ground somewhere
but it is that kind of, I’m not sure I can do that, I don’t know if I belong
here, but I’m going to -- but there’s something inside of them that says
maybe I can and then -- then they start taking courses and they start
to do well and they start to get confidence and then they’re
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surrounded by people who are putting academics at the center of their
life and so they start to get more interested in that and they eat off of
that and they start to get stronger academically and then they think
maybe this is going to be my life and -- and then you know, some of
them do I mean a lot of our students, some of our students go to
course law school, in business school but Ph.D. programs, but others
find a way to sit -- you know academic life into their work life, you
know they continue to take courses, they continue to write, they -- you
know they find ways.

[SUZANNE SPREADBURY]: So, that’s kind of cycle that I see ---

[CHRIS FINLAY]: Yeah.

[SUZANNE SPREADBURY]: --- in terms of meaningful and I think it


just becomes much more part of their life, you know, they’ll read more,
they’ll be interested, they’ll be a lifelong learners.

[SUZANNE SPREADBURY]: You know a lot of this is about identity, I


mean a lot of people were at the field marched, you know and they
want someone to say that they’re smart. The degree and you know in
this country we certified everything, you know, you can’t feel good
about yourself unless you have a piece of paper. And so there is --
there is feeling that you know they’re out in the world, they’re
surrounded by people who have bachelor’s degree and they don’t and
they -- they want to feel part of that community. I mean we can’t --
like there’s -- there’s a big identity issue that goes on with continuing
especially with the adult that go over here.

[SUZANNE SPREADBURY]: I mean these people are probably


working at jobs where they should have masters degree so the feeling
like -- may I have -- probably I need to tell you that I have my Ph.D. in
adult education and I did a qualitative research project on my student
so, some of them are just coming through that, you know, interviewing
my students about why they return to school so, you know my in-depth
qualitative research was about, mostly about wanting an identity, you
know wanting to be confirmed always thinking they were smart and --
and now they feel like they can claim that identity.

[CHRIS FINLAY]: That’s great. Is there a way we could see that


report or read your report?

[SUZANNE SPREADBURY]: Yeah, sure.

[CHRIS FINLAY]: Well, I do that. Well, I do that. Well, I have to


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check that out. I’m sure it’s got a great perspective or inside that we
haven’t yeah, yeah gotten.

[SUZANNE SPREADBURY]: You know, it’s hard though I mean I think


about thing that they also talked about was that, you know, they’re
doing the undergraduate degree in an age, at a more advance stage
31, 32, 33, 35 you know, and you know they’re feeling like they have
to like catch up and that other people are working on masters or other
degrees at this time. So, when it -- they’re feeling behind the game,
you know, like there’s this like, there’s cultural clock that we put on
people, that people should be doing things as times and if you’re not
there’s something wrong with you. Adult students have to deal with a
lot, they have to deal with -- with that feeling left behind, they have to
deal with, you know -- you know, feeling like they’re working twice as
hard as traditional students, you know, they’re working and going
school and they’re putting a lot more effort into their studies then --
then sometimes they feel traditionally students do but they have much
more luxuries, you know, they’re going to school full-time they don’t
have to work they have parental support they have, you know, all
these people helping them and here they’re doing it alone, you know,
by themselves, you know, much support, paying for themselves while
they’re working and yet you know, they feel the society looks down at
them for -- for doing it this way that somehow they’re less than for not
doing the traditional way. So you know, it’s not an easy road for -- for
continuing as a students, especially in this area and I’m sure that you
went out the Midwest and other places it wouldn’t be but when you’re
continuing at student at Harvard there’s a lot of identity issues. I mean
that you’re constantly being compared to the -- to the brightest and
the most richest university in the -- in the one of the -- in the world. So
I mean it’s hard to live those true world, it’s hard to be working and
coming from a working class background and going to school here and
then, you know, having this -- this other place that’s here too, and how
do you -- how do you relate to that place, do you belong in this place,
you know, should you just keep -- you said you’re great about what
you’re doing, you know, I mean so those kinds of issues are per unique
here at Harvard and tell you to other continuing -- I mean there’s not a
lot of continuing ed programs at schools are waiting on a degree I
mean some of them have certainly not in the scale that we have, you
can -- you can have a program but you know firstly, if you, you know,
Brown has the program if you’re 25 years old and you want to come
and but it’s mostly a day program it’s not, I mean Brown is not open to
continuing as a students, I mean you can take some non-credit courses
there or whatever but I mean they’re not welcoming people from
Providence to come and earn their degree at Brown, right?

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[CHRIS FINLAY]: Yeah.

[SUZANNE SPREADBURY]: They’re -- they’re nervous so they would


be very nervous about that their brand and all of that. So, you know
and that -- those types of things that you know we have through the
experience here for sure.

[CHRIS FINLAY]: It’s great. So, I guess along those lines and maybe
you already have just kind of figured out based on you doing your own
research, if you had the opportunity to go out and speak to students
from not -- not just continuing ed but you know from -- from
community colleges or text schools, you know, across the spectrum
what -- what would you ask them, what would like to know?

[SUZANNE SPREADBURY]: Well, what I would like to know from


community college students?

[CHRIS FINLAY]: Well, just students from across the spectrum if --


you know we’re going out to -- to do this research with students from
also to different schools and I wonder if there’re any questions that you
would -- you would like to ask?

[SUZANNE SPREADBURY]: Well, I mean I think the big thing for me


it’s from a very, I mean I’m a proponent of liberal arts education so I
mean I would want to know -- I would want to try to help people think
about, you know, why are they there and what do they want to learn
versus why I want to get -- I want to get training for a job. I mean not
that I -- I mean I certainly understand that and I did it myself I
understand desire for that but I also know what education can do in
terms of transforming someone’s thinking that I’m not just a worker,
I’m a thinker and I, you know, and I think that’s really important
because I -- sometimes I feel that, you know, especially at community
college and school there’s a way to trained -- to trained for a particular
job but also not to -- to consider myself just a worker. And then I have
other ways I can -- citizen and be an educated citizen and just be an
educated person and lifelong learner. So, I think it might be interested
in that it would be interested in -- in questions around that based the
education as to the -- a way that they trained for a job, are they
looking for more out of it, and do they even have, you know, can’t
even hope that it would be more than that. Are they getting any --
from the institution that they -- they could be more than that as a
institution just giving them the message that, okay a radio, you know,
you’re going to be a technologist and you know, these are the things
you can learn or in the classes they’re asking people to think critically
about -- about what it’s like to be a worker and -- and so I mean I don’t
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know, those are the kinds of things I’m interested in.

[SUZANNE SPREADBURY]: I mean I’m certainly interested in the


ways that we can keep -- keep people in school if they want to be in
school I mean I find it very sad that if someone wants to be there and
they can’t and they leave I don’t feel upset if someone feels this is not
the right time for them to be at school and they need to leave I think
that that’s a very brave and an important thing to do, but if they really
want to be there and they’re -- they’re leaving then I, I mean I want to
know more about that, why? Is it just financial, are they just not fitting
in, are they just not finding other students by themselves, other ways
of connecting? No. But our students in terms of the student
experience in the life I mean our students are fairly busy people so I
mean they talk a lot about wanting community here but it’s hard to
form community I mean these people are juggling, you know what
family, work and school when are they going to come and have time to
come and have, you know, a reception or you know, things like that.
So I try to build community around things that are -- that are
meaningful to them like, you know we have -- we developed faculty ed
program where our students can work one on one with the faculty
member in the research setting. So they can get research experience
and they can, you know, connect with the faculty member that way
that has been incredibly successful even from people who are working.
And if they’re thinking about going on to graduate school it’s great
thing they want to get to know faculty member better, you know, it’s --
it’s things like that I find work with continuing ed students versus
trying to have parties or trying to connect them to a social
engagement that is they just don’t have the time for that. And you
know they have to make choices, they have to decide and I’m going to
go and spend a couple of hours and some students do, but it -- but it
doesn’t get the numbers but if we could find ways that I’m connecting
particularly with faculty so I find that important part of the process. I
mean we know a lot from the research that it’s -- the students can
connect with faculty that more likely to sticks with it. And so, anyways
I can get them to -- to do that, you know, the faculty ed programs has
been great.

[CHRIS FINLAY]: It’s great. Suzan, I want to be respectful of your


time I just have like three more questions, would that be okay?

[SUZANNE SPREADBURY]: Okay.

[CHRIS FINLAY]: Okay. So I guess along those lines, what are some
of the -- the big learn, like maybe the big challenges and big things
you’ve learned to really make this community work or -- or make it,
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make it work best?

[SUZANNE SPREADBURY]: I think my biggest thing was to -- to not


assume that because they were working that they wouldn’t have time
for traditional things and I don’t mean social things but I think the thing
like the faculty ed program or you know I think they were -- when I
started working in continuing ed 25 years ago there was the thought
that you know, you know just wanted to come and do their classes and
they weren’t at all interested in other things. And I was -- I think that
you need to look at what the day school provide in terms of support
services and think about each one of them and figure out if they are
pertinent to the adult population. You know, the faculty ed program is
the perfect example because that was one where I proposed that and
everyone though that that would -- you know, adult students don’t
have time to do that, they’re not going to do that, they’re not going to,
you know, work for $10.00 an hour for a faculty member. They -- you
know, it was very much positive they don’t have -- they can’t do that,
they don’t want to do that, they’re here just for job training they don’t
-- they are not interested in our academic life. And you know working
in the -- you know, ground up you know, I’m an advisor as well as the
Dean, I meet with students all the time so I hear what they want and
you know, so that was the program that Harvard College offered. I
thought how it work there and I was like we should have it here that is
something our students should have they should have all the resources
they need if they want to go on to graduate school we need so that
they have the resources that they need to do that and also academic
services, I mean we didn’t offer any writing workshops or any help
issue or running in to trouble or you know, we figured adult students
can take care of themselves. Well, no, they need -- they need
workshops and they need, you know, services and they need clear
services so we, you know, we have to build up what’s right. You know
but you don’t -- you don’t have to build a whole career centre for a
continuing ed students, you can a find the way to do it piecemeal
because there are a lot of -- already have jobs here who don’t need
career services but there are -- there are adults that don’t so you have
to figure out a way not just to purchase wholesale what -- what our
program has during the day but look at each service and evaluate it
and then offer it on a small scale to continuing education students to
keep them, to give them a little bit of a safety net when they needed
and to keep them motivated and to find ways for them to connect with
faculty so they can go on to graduate schools if they want to because
you can’t go on a graduate school unless if strong -- there is a
recommendation from faculty without research experience and you
know, you can’t assume that these -- these students are here just for
job, they’re here for a lot of different reasons.
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[SUZANNE SPREADBURY]: And making you know independent study
where they can work one on one with the faculty member and a
tutorial setting and working on a research project that was something
that they had during the day that I figured we need to have that here
being able to take courses during the day, one or two courses during
the day and transfer it to their program here, you know, that works out
very well.

[CHRIS FINLAY]: Nice.

[SUZANNE SPREADBURY]: I think that’s kind of not assuming that


they wouldn’t make time for academic not assume they don’t need a
safe -- some kind of you know, support services and finding ways to
doing it that’s not expensive and that meets their needs and you know
one of those things here too is, I mean we’re very clean staff so you
have to be, to where it multiple hats and do multiple things and you
know people have to work pretty hard and continuing it. You know
there’s not a whole lot of staff, you know, we have to keep the cost
down so you have to have people who are pretty committed and are
willing to -- to do a bunch of good things during the day and you know
to run things and to you know, to add on to their responsibilities
without adding onto their salary. So, you know, there has to be a little
bit of a mission when you hire people, you know, you had -- when I --
when I look for someone I have to have find that they really are
committed as well as or have strong skills but you know, you have to
kind of have people who are interested in the mission of the school and
that’s why they want to work here. And I think we’re doing something
incredibly special, we’re making a very high quality education with --
with you know our students have access to all the libraries here in
Harvard. I mean it’s an amazing place for very affordable price and
way in is let you do the work, I mean it’s you know if more schools are
like that more people would be educated and we would have a more
engaged citizenship but I mean I think we always want to feel like
we’re selecting just the top of the top people want to feel like I’m
special and, you know, I’m one of 100 and people that got admitted to
share or you know, the idea that you know that a college education is
-- has an exchange value it’s not a used value, right?

[SUZANNE SPREADBURY]: I very much believe the education have


a used value that it change people to think and you know whether they
do it Bunker Hill Community College or whether you do it here. You
know, so it when they get out there in the job market it’s not this
consumerism it’s not something where you know, it’s -- the selection
process where it’s, you know, it’s a commodity, you know, and how
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much somebody got, you know, got through the -- the clearing house
and was able to, you know, be at the top of the top. You know that
works for a very small number of people in this population, it doesn’t in
it, you know, you wouldn’t be able to survive that way. I mean
education is getting way too expensive it’s going to become a lead
commodity that only the very rich are going to be able to do. And if we
don’t make some changes and you know support programs like this
and at other institutions like Brown and like you know, MIT and like you
know, and I don’t know what we’re going to end up with.

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