By |Published On: March 29th, 2021|Categories: University Communications|

Fielding at 47

Michael Goldstein, JD – Fielding Trustee

Michael Goldstein, JD – Trustee

While not quite accurate, I feel that I have been a part of Fielding since its inception. In reality, I first joined the Board of Trustees shortly after the baton was passed from the founding president, Frederick Hudson, to William (Bill) Maehl.  Bill represented a significant change in the leadership of the institution, from a leading psychology practitioner and theorist to an expert in experiential learning.  The Chair of the Fielding Board at the time, Morris Keeton, the founding President of what was then the Council for Adult and Experiential Learning, later becoming CAEL, called me to ask if I might be interested in joining the Fielding board.  I was then making the transition from university administrator and faculty member to organizing and leading one of the first higher education law practices devoted specifically to the needs and interests of the higher education community.  Morris launched into a lengthy, detailed and impassioned exposition of the birth, development and evolution of Fielding, from an idea to transform adult learning in the cause of social justice into a respected accredited doctoral institution still true to its founding principles.  He told me that the current board needed an infusion of new ideas and perspectives and he said he thought my background in higher education, law and experiential learning (I had founded the New York City Urban Corps) would be a perfect fit.  But I demurred: I explained that while I was both honored and flattered to be invited to be a part of what sounded like a fascinating and truly important innovation in adult learning I was totally consumed with building out my new legal practice.  Morris paused for a moment, and then said: “Did I mention that Fielding is in Santa Barbara?”  It took me a few milliseconds to respond: “Morris, why didn’t you start with that?  Of course I would be delighted to accept your invitation!”  The rest is history.  I served on the board through Bill Maehl’s administration and into that of his successor.  Then I retired to spend more time with my legal work, until I was importuned by the next president, the ebullient and brilliant Judith Kuipers, to rejoin the Board.  I have been there ever since, including having the great honor of serving as Board Chair.  Fielding is a far cry from what it was nearly a half-century ago, having achieved a remarkable level of distinction in the process of producing generations of skilled and humane scholar practitioners and adding materially to the body of knowledge across its core disciplines, all the while maintaining its laser focus on social justice.  All of that is the direct result of its exceptional faculty, students and leadership, most specifically Katrina Rogers and Monique Snowden, as well as my brother and sister trustees – an astounding group of smart, dedicated and really nice people.  Happy 47th, Fielding Graduate University, and many more.

Fielding’s Name Changes Over the Year

Nicola Smith, PhD – Former Trustee & Current Faculty

Nicola Smith, PhD – Former Trustee & Current Faculty

A recollection chronicling Fielding’s name changes over the years: Incorporated as the Fielding Institute, stakeholders’ first question was “What the heck is an Institute?” Once there was some sense it was an organization with largely unfettered self-definition and self-determination, the drawbacks that emerged — principally that our degrees that might not be universally recognized — fueled a discussion that we examine frameworks that more clearly declared we were a recognized higher education institution. There was a brief period when we were the Fielding Graduate Institute before coming to our present identity as Fielding Graduate University. Nevertheless, Fielding Graduate University continues to have a canvas of students, staff, board, faculty, and alumni. Good times.

Forward-thinking, Innovative-Organization

Stan Hatch, PhD – Former Trustee

Stan Hatch, PhD – Former Trustee

“I still remember the day I was called and asked to be a member of the Board of Fielding.  An early client of mine in the practice of law had been one of the founders of the internet and was instrumental in causing UCSB to be one of the five original hubs of the Arpanet.  His name was Glen Culler and he did much of the early work on speech synthesis and voice recognition. He caused me to rethink the practice of law using technology. As a consequence I was looking forward to examining Fielding’s computer setup, which was making it one of the leading, quality distance-learning platforms in the country. I was honored to be part of such a forward-thinking, innovative organization.  What I discovered in the years that followed was that the people, the faculty, the staff and the students were even more impressive than the innovative technology,” Stanley C. Hatch, Former Trustee.

One of the High Points in my Academic Career  

Nancy Schapiro, PhD – Trustee Emerita

Nancy Schapiro, PhD – Trustee Emerita

Thinking about my years on the Fielding Board brings back very warm memories. First, memories of place. For those of us who do not live in Santa Barbara, arriving at the place–the toy airport (before renovation), the Fess Parker (with tile floors and open-air ambiance), the morning beach walks–was like crossing a threshold to a differentiated reality.

My sense of the Fielding community was simultaneously linked to the place and to people.  Open, interested, passionate, curious, opinionated, welcoming and warm people greeted me the moment I walked into the Fess Parker. Convening in the familiar meeting room, picking up our name badges and board books, and finding our places became a welcome ritual, but one I approached with a bit of anxious anticipation—would I be able to make a meaningful contribution this time?  I always felt the stakes were high. We were responsible for shepherding something special—and it was fragile.

We had two presidential searches while I was on the Board, transitioning from Judy Kuipers to Dick Meyers to Katrina. Those were huge growth opportunities for the University, for the Board, and for me. For me, making a contribution to the well-being of a unique, value-driven, transformative higher education institution was one of the high points of my academic career.  I remember a conversation—one of the first—about online instruction.  We were discussing MOOCs back in 2013 and wondering if “Can knowledge areas be converted to online, and is it productive to do this?” This was one of many Board conversations that now look prescient.

It gives me great joy to know the institution is thriving and adapting…and leading the change we all knew was coming (although we didn’t know it would take the form of a global pandemic).  Very best wishes to students, faculty and staff at this singular moment.

Diversity without Compromising

Shusma Sharma – Former Trustee

Shusma Sharma, PhD – Former Trustee

My experience as a trustee on the board was exceptional. What impacted me the most was the friendly and humane approach. The meetings took care of diversity without compromising with Quality. The concern and care for students and faculty was very deep rooted. I really learnt a lot during my stint as a trustee, about University system and dedication to education.

Katrina Rogers was a great example of leadership. The best part was no politics. The board lived the values it professed.

All the best for it to continue to shine.

Interpersonal Community

Sherry Hatcher, PhD – Former Trustee & Current Faculty

Sherry Hatcher, PhD – Former Trustee & Current Faculty

I was hired by Dean Ron Giannetti in 1999 to teach with our Clinical Psychology Program, having come from a long-term faculty position at the University of Michigan. Though I had many wonderful experiences at Michigan, including having received several Excellence in Education Awards–what impressed me about Fielding, from the get-go, was its special quality of interpersonal community. To this day, some of my most treasured relationships are with faculty colleagues, administrators, staff, alumni and our current students. I recall a time when one of my doctoral students acted surprised when I referenced that I was her “Faculty Advisor,” even though I’d been mentoring her for several years. When I asked in puzzlement what she thought my role was, she replied: “I just think of you as my person.” That incident embodies the kind of meaningful relationship that so many of our faculty have with their students and with others in the Fielding community. And, even when we are not gathering in real time, I know I can still connect virtually with “my people,” so that we may share together in our collaborative work and life happenings.

The Fusion of Head, Heart, and Spirit  

Rich Appelbaum, PhD – Former Trustee & Current Faculty  

Rich Appelbaum, PhD – Former Trustee & Current Faculty

I go back almost to the beginning of Fielding – I was even a member of Fielding’s Board of Trustees around the time that HOD was created! I have many, many wonderful memories – but I will select only one that stands out at the moment: our first “campus,” the Casa de Maria retreat center in the mountain foothills. Casa de Maria was a magical place – a sprawling, verdant, extremely rustic center where intense face-to-face annual sessions could easily give way to walks in the woods, meditation, and silence. Equipped with only one pay telephone (this, of course, was long before mobile phone technology!), student-colleagues and faculty alike focused entirely on the present: classroom discussions, one-on-one meetings, graduations. I would have thought that our student-colleagues – mid-career adult professionals – would have balked at the “primitive” conditions.  But on the contrary, the setting contribution to the intense bonding which has been a central part of Fielding’s DNA from the beginning: the fusion of head, heart, and spirit is, in my view, one of the many things that make us truly unique in the field of adult graduate education.

Liberty Weekend, 1986

Judy Stevens-Long, PhD – Faculty Emerita

Liberty Weekend, 1986

On July 4, 1986, a national TV event took place to celebrate the restoration of the Statue of Liberty  (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Liberty_Weekend). Part of the pageant included the largest flotilla of a tall ship ever assembled sailing up the Hudson River. At Fielding, summer session was held over the Fourth of July weekend at La Casa Maria, a retreat center in the hills of Montecito. It was a sweet, woodsy place with a fairly large number of meeting rooms, plenty of retreat-style sleeping rooms, and a warm, cozy room with a fireplace near the cafeteria that could seat the whole group at once. Charlie Seashore had only been at Fielding for a year or so, and I had been there 18 months on Liberty weekend of 1986. On the evening of July 4, we had all gathered in the room with the fireplace, and Charlie decided the best use of our time might be to reenact Liberty weekend on the spot. He divided everyone into groups. He got one group to be tall ships, directing them to stand up on their chairs, waving their arms back and forth over their heads like masts while he orchestrated the people he assigned to be the “huddled masses yearning to be free” (you see them on their knees in the picture). Some people got to carry sparklers for visual effects. I believe that the sparklers were the main reason Charlie wanted to do this thing. One group got to be the “homeless, tempest-tossed.” He got me to stand on a chair holding up a stack of Styrofoam cups for a torch while everyone sang “America the Beautiful.” Charlie always believed that getting a group to sing together evoked warm feelings and group cohesion. Doing silly stuff as a group was our forte in those years, and Charlie was the creator of the warmest, silliest, best group stuff ever.

Finding my Voice

Barclay Hudson, PhD – Faculty Emeritus

Barclay Hudson, PhD – Faculty Emeritus

I remember one spring evening at Santa Barbara, around the year 2000, going down to the beach with a dozen students who were graduating that weekend, and as the sun went down into the ocean, we took turns speaking about what we had learned at Fielding that was unexpected and powerful. Some of us were in tears. I think it was Julia Coupal, then, who said, “What I learned most was finding my voice, and I realize that voice was yours. It came from being with you. It was our voice.” Later, I heard something similar in a phone conversation I had with Jonathan Darby, a program director at Oxford University, whose words have also stuck with me: “We are trying to apply too much of our own intelligence and not enough of our students’ intelligence.” Fielding, from the very beginning, has built its learning model around the framework of student experience and intellect. But, I think we have to keep consciously striving to keep it that way, because Fielding, like any other institution, would otherwise tend to focus increasingly on its own internal processes, instead of looking always deeper into the hearts and minds of the students, who have such a capacity to be our teachers and give us our own voices.

Alluring and Unique

Kjell Erik Rudestam, PhD – Faculty Emeritus

Kjell Erik Rudestam, PhD – Faculty Emeritus

I would say that, among my memorable moments at Fielding, I recall my job interview for an Associate Program Director position in the Psychology Program.  At the time I was a tenured Professor of Psychology at York University in Canada and responded to an ad in the Chronicle of Higher Education from this school in California (I grew up in California) I had never heard of.  The ad was alluring, in that it wanted someone with a track record in teaching graduate students, research publications, and clinical practice.  What was unique is that the ad also specified the human qualities that were sought in a Fielding faculty and administrative position: an emphasis on student centeredness, lifelong education, and values of relationship and cultural sensitivity. I couldn’t help but apply and spent a wonderful couple of days in Santa Barbara for an interview with Fielding’s founders, emerging from the experience totally committed to the Fielding model of education.  In 35 years, I never looked back.

The Mystique Lives On

Charles McClintock, PhD – Dean Emertius

Charles McClintock, PhD – Dean Emertius

I learned about Fielding in the early 1980s when I was asked to approve doctoral study for the director of a program under my supervision at Cornell University. At that time, Fielding and Union were the only two credible institutions that offered doctoral education at a distance with very low residency requirements. The director would pursue his degree while staying on the job in Ithaca, New York. I was intrigued. The Fielding Institute, as it was known then, had a certain mystique about it. It was grounded in theories of adult learning, such as Malcom Knowles described in his writing on andragogy, and in doctoral education that drew upon a mentoring relationship between faculty and students guided in good measure by the prior knowledge and experience of the learner. I became increasingly interested in these ideas, and, through a federal research grant, I began to interact with Fielding people. The mystique that first drew me to Fielding’s founding principles eventually led me from Cornell to Fielding’s door in 2001 as a dean. For twenty years I have witnessed first-hand the magic that is infused among faculty and students when Fielding turns the process of student-centered graduate education into the reality of joyful and transformed scholar-practitioner graduates. The mystique lives on.

About the Author: Support

Share This Post!

Filter by Category

Recent Tweets

Recent Posts

Join Over 6,000 Fielding Alumni Located Around The World!

Change the world. Start with yours.™