Our focus on the arts, global concerns, and civic engagement are life-long commitments.

By Robert A. Scott, President, Adelphi University


How can one speak publicly at this time without acknowledging Hurricane Katrina’s victims in the United States and victims of another sort in Iraq? Please think of them during this program.

Our very own icon, Ruth Harley, died on July 4th, six weeks into her 104th year. As was said about her mentor, Dean Anna Harvey, “None knew her but to love her; None names her but to praise.”1 We will hold a memorial service for Ruth at 3:30pm on Tuesday, September 27th here in her U.C. Ruth knew founding president Charles Levermore, just as she had known all of Adelphi’s presidents. On our walk from my office in Levermore Hall to the Harley Center in September five years ago, she told me that. Here I was, nervous about my first speech on campus, and Ruth tells me she knew all of my predecessors. No pressure there.


In June, while driving south to see my daughter and her family, a certain pattern of words came to mind. I was pondering what to say today and how to introduce it, thinking of our new Fine Arts facility, and musing about Adelphi’s mission and rich heritage in the arts. The following verse began to form, not as literature but as a sentiment, an attempt at synthesis in couplet form.

“The Truth Shall Make Us Free”,
Suggests who we might be:
Scholars, artists, seekers of truth,
Students all beneath Levermore’s roof.
He inspired the mission we pursue today,
Of liberal study and the professional way.
He saw the world, he opened our eyes,
He even won the Bok Peace prize.
He set a course that challenges us still,
To be engaged, not aloof on a hill.
Our goal is to create, preserve, and critique;
Our role: to enhance Adelphi’s mystique.

To build for the future, it is important to reflect on Adelphi’s past.

“The Truth Shall Make Us Free” suggests who we might be; scholars, artists, seekers of truth, students all beneath Levermore’s roof. While our motto was selected in 1869, twenty-six years before Levermore joined Adelphi, he surely embodied it. Adelphi historian Chester Barrows called him “one of the greatest scholars of the day…”2 He graduated from Yale in 1879 and earned his doctorate at Johns Hopkins, where he studied History and Political Science alongside fellow student Woodrow Wilson.3 Levermore taught at MIT before coming to Adelphi in 1893, and his curriculum revisions at Adelphi earned praise from President Eliot of Harvard.4 He built on the progressive ideas of those who preceded him and initiated reforms of his own. We are, indeed, to this day, all students “beneath Levermore’s roof” and indebted to his leadership.

He assembled an exceptional faculty, including some in drawing and painting.5 In the 1870’s, the Brooklyn Academy of Design ceased operation and the Adelphi Trustees purchased its collections. Adelphi friends Henry Ward Beecher and Harriet Beecher Stowe provided additional gifts of statues, busts, and art equipment. “With the erection of the College Building in 1888,” recounts Barrows, “an art school was set-up and over the next four decades (under the direction of Professor John Whittaker) Adelphi became a premier art school in the New York area, and added courses to prepare teachers of art. Between 1896 and 1901, enrollment in art nearly doubled. And, around the same time, one of our early graduates, Frank Boggs, exhibited at the Paris Salon; several of his paintings were purchased by the French government and others were displayed at the Metropolitan Museum of Art.6 The College colors of brown (for earth or science) and gold (for art) chosen at that time give further testimony to the priority given to studying beauty as well as truth and virtue.

I focus on the arts today because they have been an important part of he University’s heritage, because so many distinguished painters, sculptors, and other artists claim Adelphi as alma mater, home, or partner, and because this month we will open our new 18,000 square foot Fine Arts Building for painting, sculpture, ceramics, and graphics. The dedication will be held December 12th.

Among our accomplished colleagues, in the tradition of Whittaker and Boggs, we count Robert Cronbach, Elaine de Kooning, Richard Vaux, Tom McAnulty, Dan Welden, Albert S. Kelley, Abraham Joel Tobias, Helen Harrison, Philip Eliasoph, Marsha Lipsitz, Yvonne Korshak, Peter Lipman-Wulf, Milton Goldstein, Harvey Weiss, Madeline Lane, Warren “Pete” Jennerjahn (whose work is on display now), Albert Dorne, Harry Davies, David Hornung, Grace Cantone, and Helen Frankthaler, among others. To represent these faculty, students, and honorands today, as we reflect on and celebrate Adelphi’s rich past in the arts, we recognize Adele Klapper, an alumna with two Adelphi degrees and renowned as a collector, curator, and critic. She, too, is a scholar, artist and seeker of truth.

He (Levermore) inspired the mission we pursue today of liberal study and the professional way. What is “liberal study”? I think of the liberal arts (and sciences) as liberating – – freeing us from the provincial origins of time, place, and a single culture. The goal of liberal education is to teach the ordinary student to become a cultured person and to appreciate other cultures; to develop in students the capacity to assess assumptions and understand the value-laden choices that await them as citizens, consumers, decision-makers, and arbiters of ethical alternatives; to inspire students to contemplate the meaning of life and the role of religion, politics, and economics; to help students develop in their capacity to build a civilization compatible with the aspirations of human beings and the limitations of the natural environment. Liberal education helps students gain the confidence to formulate ideas, take initiative, and solve problems; develop skills in language, learning, and leadership; and increase their abilities for reasoning in different modes. It helps students to appreciate the pursuits of pure science and the difference between science and technology.

With liberal learning as I have defined it, students can improve in clear and graceful expression in written, oral, and visual communication; organizational ability; tolerance and flexibility; creativity; sensitivity to the concerns of others; and aesthetic values. Liberal study in this way prepares students to distinguish between and among fact, faith, and fear as ways of knowing; it frees them and us from ignorance and apathy. Liberal education fosters imagination, which Einstein said is even more important than knowledge7 – – although I would add that knowledge of history, or context, is essential to imagination. Alfred North Whitehead said “Imagination is not to be divorced from facts: It is a way of illuminating the facts.”8 A focus on imagination or “wonder” underscores the importance of the student and not just the canon.

Liberal learning is the best preparation for what author Daniel Pink calls the “Conceptual Age” – – the time beyond the Information Age. To succeed in this age, he says, we “will have to develop…our right-brain creative aptitudes to supplement …our left-brain logical skills.”9 Pink identifies six aptitudes needed: aesthetic design, story or narrative, symphony or synthesis, empathy, play, and meaning or purpose.10 These aptitudes, I submit, are perfectly aligned with the arts and diametrically opposed to over-specialization.

This emphasis on liberal education should not suggest a lessening of importance on the “professional way.” Indeed, Adelphi began preparing teachers at the beginning – by building professional preparation on a firm foundation of liberal study. That same philosophy continued with the addition of nursing, social work, psychology, and business, and the expansion of graduate education. By 1914, Adelphi had prepared twenty-two professors of other colleges, thirteen school principals, sixty-three high school teachers, nearly four hundred elementary school teachers, nearly three hundred kindergarten teachers, and about 1000 other teachers. Some 1800 teachers in the New York City area had attended Adelphi.11

The connections between liberal learning and the professional way are revealed by the four key elements defining a profession: “an accepted body of knowledge, a system for certifying that individuals have mastered that body of knowledge before they are allowed to practice, a commitment to the public good, and an enforceable code of ethics.”12 These elements are formed through liberal learning, and the knowledge, skills, abilities, and values we gain from it.

He saw the world, he opened our eyes; he even won the Bok Peace Prize. Charles H. Levermore was an internationalist who believed in cooperation instead of conflict; he advocated for the League of Nations and U.S. entry into the World Court. I like to think he would be pleased that Adelphi is an official part of the United Nations as a Non-Governmental Organization (NGO) affiliated with its Department of Public Information (DPI). After retiring as president, he continued to teach history and also served as a director of the World Peace Foundation and Secretary of the New York Peace Society. In 1924, his proposal for world peace was selected unanimously from among 22, 000 submissions seeking the Prize of $50,000 awarded by publisher Edward Bok.

Levermore’s interest in world affairs is evident in his writings and in the curriculum expansion he guided. Early in his career, he added World History, Geography, and the study of German. It seems likely, given the progressive and well-connected patrons of Adelphi, that Levermore would have known Andrew Dickson White, former president of Cornell and fellow Yale alumnus, who served as U.S. President McKinley’s First Delegate to the Hague Appeal for Peace convened in 1899. Many of the principles discussed at the Hague conference became part of Levermore’s own plan for peace.

Concern for international cooperation was paralleled by a concern for tolerance at home. The founders of Adelphi were abolitionists, suffragists, and advocates of religious freedom and diversity. They fought antisemitism and prejudice against Catholics, and sought to foster meritocracy.13

The world Levermore and his colleagues, including Timothy Woodruff, Board President and New York State Lieutenant Governor, saw was nearby as well as far away. Today he would be as concerned as we are about racism, prejudice toward immigrants, religious intolerance, and unilateralism in international affairs. He understood that “we, as a species, share a common destiny and that, the sooner we embrace that concept, the greater a future we shall share.”14 We continue this tradition by requiring all new students this year to read Nickel and Dimed by Barbara Ehrenreich,15 and by providing assistance to those left homeless by Hurricane Katrina.

I think Levermore and his Adelphi Faculty would be shocked to learn that in 2005 it was reported that a survey of 100,000 high school students found that nearly three-fourths of them did not know about the First Amendment, 45 words written 200 years ago.16 This is one reason we are distributing copies of the U.S. Constitution today. The other reason is that henceforth all U.S. educational institutions receiving federal funds are required by law to offer an educational program on the Constitution each September 17th, the anniversary of its signing.17 Because September 17th is a Saturday this year, the day of remembrance is the 16th. We will send a reminder next week. On September 13, at 12:00 Noon in University Center Room 201, alumnus and State Senator Michael Balboni will lecture on the Constitution and the practice of “filibuster”. All are welcome.

The photo-journal display, “Faces of Liberty,” in Swirbul Library gives testimony to the power of First Amendment freedoms and the need to protect them. Peter Peterson’s talk scheduled for September 19th and based on his best-selling book, Running on Empty, gives us more to contemplate as we consider the responsibilities of citizenship in relation to our rights.18

He set a course that challenges us still, to be engaged, not aloof on a hill. We call Adelphi the “engaged” University. A section of the Vision Statement adopted by the Board of Trustees after a year of campus discussions states that:

The University will be known for the competence of its graduates, its strong programs and interdisciplinary orientation, its welcoming of the community onto the campus, and its impact on the broader society through educational, economic, intellectual and cultural initiatives.

We foster engagement in the community and invite the community to become engaged on campus. Students, faculty, and staff are involved in community-based research, internships, field placements and voluntarism. I applaud these collective and individual efforts as actions of conscience, not just compliance to a mandate.

The community is involved on campus in many ways, including attendance at cultural events, participation on advisory boards, attendance in class as guest scholars, and clients in our various professional services.

Several combined programs, through which we are involved in the community and the community is involved with us, include the Adelphi Prize for Leadership, which recognizes high school juniors from Garden City who are exemplars of community service; Vital Signs, the social health indicator project designed to assist opinion leaders; the “Heart Walk” of the American Heart Association; and the new interdisciplinary Institute on Parenting, which will conduct research and provide workshops and services related to parenting from pregnancy through the teenage years.

Adelphi’s faculty and leaders have been involved in society, not aloof on a hill, since the beginning. This is our heritage and our obligation. Of course, community service occurs on campus as well as off. Faculty governance requires faculty to volunteer for the Senate and committees, and “shared” governance involving faculty and administration requires a commitment to mutual goals. Toward this end, the Provost and I meet regularly with the Chair and Vice Chair of the Senate, and I communicate routinely with the President of the faculty union. We need to be engaged with each other, as well as the broader community, if we are to fulfill our vision.

As further evidence of our campus community engagement and attention to shared governance, I would point to the 110 faculty (68.2% of whom are tenured) who received merit, compression, and market force adjustments in salary, or release time from teaching to support scholarship, under our new Collective Bargaining Agreement. And this is in addition to a 5% annual salary increase.

Our goal is to create, preserve, and critique; our role: to enhance Adelphi’s mystique. The three-part mission of a university is to create new knowledge and understanding, preserve the past through artifacts and learning, and critique accepted notions of the true, the good, and the beautiful. To fulfill this complex mission, we must preserve academic freedom. Vartan Gregorian, President of the Carnegie Corporation of New York, and former President of Brown University, cites “maintaining academic freedom . . . which is a . . . prerequisite for teaching, learning, and leadership development, is necessary to protect the integrity of research at American universities.”19 The threat to academic freedom comes not only from government but also from the increasing commercialization of university research, which can discourage pure scholarship and bias results.

We subscribe to the “Boyer Model” of scholarship, articulated by former U.S. Department of Education Secretary Ernest L. Boyer, which has four dimensions, including discovery, or pure research; integration, or synthesis; application of knowledge to address problems or questions; and development of new pedagogies for teaching and learning.20 In each case, academic freedom is a must, for students as well as faculty. Each must respect the other’s pursuit of truth, and neither may pursue an ideological quest in violation of the other.

Now, what about Adelphi’s mystique? Some early readers of these notes questioned my use of this word, which means “aura,” “charm,” “charisma.” I think we have a responsibility to enhance Adelphi’s aura, and we do so by setting goals each year and seeing them to completion. For this year and the near future, at least, we have the following goals.

    1. Increase non-tuition revenue as a percentage of total revenue.
      Enrollment has increased some 40 percent since Fall 2000, and tuition revenue has risen as well. However, enrollment cannot increase as significantly in the future. We are nearly at capacity in Garden City, except on weekends; only the Hauppauge and Manhattan Centers provide opportunities for growth and they, too, have limits. Therefore, projections for tuition revenue must be moderate, even considering new programs and new modes of distance learning, while we have added to fixed costs by hiring over 140 new faculty and greatly enhancing facilities and technology in the past four years.

      As a consequence, we must continue to increase annual giving, which is up 620% in five years (and was especially successful this year because so many faculty and staff responded to the anonymous alumni challenge), as well as capital gifts and pledges, especially for endowments, which have reached historic levels. Our goal is to raise endowment funds for student scholarships and faculty support.

      This is a special challenge because such a high proportion of alumni studied part-time for graduate degrees and did not have the same emotional connection to Adelphi as undergraduates who studied full-time, played sports and participated in clubs and organizations, and joined fraternities and sororities. However, all alumni remember the influence of their professors, and this gives us each a special role in achieving these goals.

      In addition, we are adding staff to assist faculty in seeking grants that provide indirect cost recovery, developing business plans for clinical services, and preparing for enhanced continuing professional education. By 2010, these non-tuition sources must increase significantly so as to maintain reasonable tuition increases in the years ahead.
    2. Increase alumni participation in events and annual giving.
      Alumni represent both the past and the future for present students. They came before and established traditions, and they can brighten the future by providing internships, jobs, and networking. We want alumni to participate in events so they are well-informed about their University and can help in recruiting students, hosting faculty speakers, and introducing us to opinion leaders and potential benefactors. Alumni (and friends) who are informed, interested, and involved are then most likely to invest in the Annual Fund and the capital fund drive. Many external bodies, including college guides, foundations, and bond rating agencies look at alumni participation in the Annual Fund as a major indicator of institutional vitality.
    3. Ensure “enrollment by design” through high standards and student satisfaction.
      We can easily meet our overall enrollment goals, but we want a balance between undergraduate and graduate students, have a limit to the number we can house — in residence on campus (or off) — and want a distribution of students across programs. Therefore, we design the enrollment composition we desire and work to create it. This takes effort from everyone, whether in the Admissions Office or a faculty office. Enrollment is everyone’s job, and we know that students with choices want not only high quality but also contact with faculty and current students as they apply, consider offers, and decide where to matriculate.Enrollment includes retention as well as recruitment, and this requires the best in extracurricular life as well as in the classroom. We plan new programs and services this year and next, including the new Levermore Scholars Program, focused on global education and service or experimental learning, to ensure we are both challenging to and supportive of our students. We are creating a new Office of Post-Graduate Study and Fellowships to enhance even further the already fine advising we provide to students contemplating their years after Adelphi. We are developing new programs and strategies for the Adult Baccalaureate Program, and new initiatives for University College. Finally, we are working to live up to the honor bestowed upon Adelphi as the only institution on Long Island included in the new “Fiske Guides to Colleges.”

      Enrollment by design also requires both sufficient student financial aid to keep Adelphi affordable and attractive, and new professorships and endowed chairs to attractive top faculty as well as students.

    4. Recruitment of superb trustees.
      We have a fine Board of Trustees, more than half of whom are alumni. One hundred percent of them participate in the Annual Fund, and all are making serious commitments to the capital campaign. But wealth is not the only consideration in selecting trustees. We want bright people with significant accomplishments in fields of strategic interest to Adelphi, who are willing to devote the time necessary to be good fiduciaries of our University. I have asked the Deans to suggest potential candidates, and ask you to think about people as well. (You might be interested to know that the current Board includes a professor – and former Dean – at Princeton and a Professor of English at Cornell.)
    5. Execute the facilities plan, with contingencies.
      The capital campaign now in its quiet phase includes facilities as well as endowment. In addition to the Fine Arts and Facilities Building now nearing completion, we plan to expand Olmsted Theatre to incorporate music with a 500- seat auditorium and dance with a 200-seat recital space; renovate Woodruff Hall for Health, Physical Education, and related instructional programs, important to Adelphi since the 19th century; and build a new center for recreation, intramurals, and intercollegiate athletics – replacing Woodruff Hall, built in 1929, for these purposes. In addition, we will build a new Child Activities Center for Early Childhood Education programs, and greatly expand parking by putting 310 spaces below Stiles (soccer-lacrosse) Field and redoing existing spaces near Harley Hall – with new landscaping as well.

      During the construction phase of this work, we will move some faculty to different spaces and move a variety of activities off-campus. So, bear with us; it all will enhance the “mystique.”

      While we have not set a goal for the capital campaign, we know the facilities just enumerated will cost about $95 million, that endowment needs total tens of millions more, and that it will take five to seven years to attain these goals. We know that these facility and endowment needs are not luxuries, or needed just to be competitive, but are essential for Adelphi to continue to set a high standard of excellence in these areas just as we have in Fine Arts, technology, and Physics, to name just a few areas of increased investment in recent years. Therefore, I am pleased to report that the Board of Trustees and I have committed ourselves to see these plans through to fruition.
    6. Assess the centers in Hauppauge, Manhattan, and Poughkeepsie.
      We have offered degree programs in Suffolk County since 1955, in Manhattan for almost two decades, and in Poughkeepsie for about as long. At one time, these centers subsidized the main campus in Garden City. Now, all are self-supporting. Next, we want to be sure we are offering the right programs in the right places for the right reasons. We have engaged the services of consultants at Applied Concepts, who helped us in 2000 and 2003, to assist us in assessing the opportunities available to us and new ways of serving these communities, as well as to consult on our advertising and marketing activities.
    7. Develop goals and strategies for programming in the Life Sciences.
      Adelphi has a long heritage in preparing graduates for the health professions, with strong grounding in the life sciences. With this region developing as a center for research and development in the life science – biotechnology arenas, it is only natural for us to ask what roles we might play on our own and in partnership with others such as Cold Spring Harbor Labs, OSI and Enzo Pharmaceuticals, and Winthrop and North Shore – LIJ Health Systems. We have completed an analysis of our programs and faculty research interests, and have scheduled meetings for faculty and selected experts to discuss our strengths and comment on our opportunities. Then, we will develop a plan for next year’s budget, grant-seeking, and special gifts to support our work.

      These are ambitious goals which require everyone’s efforts. They all grow from our history, our successes to date, and our vision for the future.


Adelphi spans three centuries. It is an institution born in the 19th century aspiring to be even better in the 21st century. What is a 21st century university? How does it differ from a 20th century university? Next spring, Dr. Gordon Davies, a Yale philosopher and for twenty years head of higher education in Virginia will help us think about these questions. In my view, key differences will include cooperation instead of competition and conflict; student learning as the center of attention; visual expression as well as rhetoric; wonder and imagination as essential in the pursuit of truth, virtue, and beauty; and engagement with schools, businesses, and the civic community both in the U.S. and in other countries. Our focus on the arts, global concerns, and civic engagement are not contemporary fads, but life-long commitments of greater importance than ever. If this is so, then we each have a role to play, for this institution, the Adelphi whose mystique we are charged to enhance, is more important than any one of us.

Looking out at this assembly, and knowing you as I do, I believe we are on our way, and thank you for all that you do for our University.

State of the University – Delivered on campus, Ruth S. Harley Center, Garden City September 7, 2005

1 Fennelly, James. The Adelphi: Love Child of the Brooklyn Brownstones. New Jersey: The Laughing Leprechaun Press, 1996, p.19.
2 Barrows, Chester L. Fifty Years of Adelphi College. Garden City: Adelphi College Press, 1946, p.15.
3 Barrows, op.cit.
4 Barrows p.15
5 Fennelly, p.7; Barrows, pp. 21-29; Morrill, Charlottte. History of Adelphi Academy. New York: Associate Alumnae of Adelphi Academy, 1916, pages 106-109.
6 Barrows, p.71
7 Friedman, Thomas L. The World is Flat: A Brief History of the Twenty-First Century. New York: Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2005, p. 441.
8 Bennis, Warren G. and James O’Toole. “How Business Schools Lost Their Way. “Harvard Business Review,” May 2005, p. 102.
9 Cornish, Edward. Finding Success in the “Conceptual Age,” a review of A Whole New Mind, by Daniel H. Pink. The Futurist, September-October 2005, p. 47.
10 Cornish, op.cit.
11 Barrows, p.69.
12 Bennis and O’Toole, op. cit.
13 Fennelly, p. 43
14 Tucker, Patrick. “Escape to Another Universe, “The Futurist”, September-October 2005, p. 48.
15 Ehrenreich, Barbara. Nickel and Dimes. New York: Henry Hold and Company, LLC, 2001. Metropolitan/Owl, 2005.
16 Harper, Elizabeth. “Online NewsHour.” MacNeil/Lehrer Productions, February 7, 2005.
17 Fischer, Karin. “Colleges Would Be Required to Teach the Constitution, Under Provision Tucked Into Spending Bill.” “The Chronicle on Higher Education”,; Federal Register, May 24, 2005; Volume 70, Number 99, Page 29727.
18 Peterson, Peter G. Running of Empty. New York: Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2004.
19 Gregorian, Vartan. “Leading Today’s Colleges and Universities: Challenges and Opportunities. The Presidency, Spring 2005, p. 30.
20 Boyer, Ernest L. Scholarship Reconsidered, Princeton: Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching, 1990.

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