After teaching at DeVry for a semester, my experience so impressed me that I asked the dean at the Tinley Park campus for an interview to find out more about DeVry and him. What I expected was that I would ask questions as the interviewer and that he would answer them as the interviewee. I spent much of my time being interviewed by him and trying to get the focus back on my set of questions. Ultimately, I wasn't able to control the hour that we shared together, and the result was a very informative exchange of ideas.
Al: Dean, I appreciate your willingness to take time out of your schedule to
be interviewed. Last semester, John
DeSalvo asked me to teach an introduction to psych and a critical thinking
class. I had heard of DeVry for
many years, but really didn't know much about it until I taught here last
semester. The students and the
administrators that I worked with impressed me. I also am impressed by your new facilities-here at Tinley
Park. Therefore, I wanted to
interview you to find out more about DeVry and its dean.
Al: What is really interesting about DeVry is the total diversity of the student body. There is a wonderful student mix here. They come from all racial, ethnic, and age groups. It is a real cross-section of our society. Some of them are the brightest and best and others are trying to get started (or restarted in some cases) academically without the best previous educational background. I can identify with a lot of them; some of them are like me when I was at college. I was a late-bloomer during much of my early academic journey. This past semester was an exciting time for me working with this diverse student body; I really loved it. What intrigues me about DeVry is your ability to teach such a broad spectrum of students.
Dean: DeVry is an attitude school; I can't guarantee that a student will make the Dean's list, but with the right attitude, that student will be able to graduate and better him or her self.
Al: Tell me about your background.
Dean: I've been with DeVry for over eighteen years in positions lodged in student services. Most recently as Dean of Students at DeVry-DuPage and here.
Al: Where did you go to school before coming to DeVry?
Al: I was also interested in all the various locations that DeVry has; they are throughout America and in Canada.
Dean: That's correct, there are three locations in Canada and twenty-one here in the States. We are opening a new campus in the Seattle area this summer. In addition, DeVry will soon have one in Northern Virginia, which is just outside of Washington, DC.
Al: When did DeVry's Tinley Park campus open?
Dean: July 2000.
Al: The present enrollment is over 1000. What is the anticipated enrollment?
Dean: Well, there are four or five acres to the east of us that we own. We have plans to expand with a second building on that site. As for the enrollment, it will grow naturally. In time, we could accommodate upwards of three thousand students.
Al: How is a student admitted to DeVry? What must he or she have grade wise, etc?
Dean: That's correct. We have skill sets: critical thinking, communication skills, understanding of literature and art. We want our students to be well rounded. What makes DeVry a little different from some other colleges or universities is that our students take their technology tract along side their general education courses rather than waiting until later.
Al: What are the major areas of study here at DeVry?
Dean: At the baccalaureate level, we offer Computer Information Systems, Electronics Engineering Technology, Telecommunication Management, and Computer Engineering Technology. We also have a bachelors program that is offered on weekends, which is on an accelerated basis. That program is called Information Technology. However, one of the criteria for that program is that you have a prior bachelors degree. This program is designed for students who wish to validate their skills or who are changing their careers to technology. At the associates level, we have one program called Electronics and Computer Technology.
Al: Don't you also have Keller here?
Dean: You're right, many of our students are between 18 and 23, but they are not necessarily the majority population.
Al: Also, it seems that you have two student bodies-daytime and evening students. Many of both groups work at least part-time if not fulltime.
Dean: Did you teach one of our evening psychology classes?
Al: I taught one from 6-9. I'm teaching another evening class next semester and two daytime classes, plus an accelerated class later on this semester that meets on Saturday morning.
Dean: Well, we have classes starting at 7 am and going late into the evening. Every school, except maybe the most prestigious and traditional ones, are offering classes to accommodate their students-even accelerated weekend classes are popular. I just saw a 60-Minutes segment with Dr. Levin who is the president of Columbia Teachers College in New York. He stated that currently of all the people attending college, only 16% are the traditional college student-18 to 23 years old who are going to school fulltime. It is interesting to note that 84% of the market are either older or pursuing a second college experience. We have a great diversity, but I don't think that it is much different from what you are going to find at many schools. We are customer-driven.
Al: That's true at St. Francis' Health Arts program.
All my students are working fulltime and going to school in their spare time.
Al: What do you think about online learning as a delivery system?
Dean: For some people, it is the only way that they can achieve an education because of schedules, careers, and where they live.
Al: However, they will miss the campus experience and being in class.
Dean: Yes, but my guess is that all online students have had some experience in a traditional college setting. I just don't think that there are very many people who are online who have never gone to college before.
Al: That's probably very true.
Dean: What course was she taking from you?
Al: Religion in America.
Dean: Of all the courses to teach online!
Al: The Religion in America class is a difficult course to teach,
because it is the one course that the students think that they know the subject
because they have gone to church all their lives. When you teach any other course, the students' mindset is
that they aren't experts on the subject.
Most of my Religion in America students view themselves as knowing it all
and being quite proficient in subject. It
takes time to get them acclimated to relearning a great deal of misinformation
that they have "learned" over the years.
Next semester, I'm trading courses with a colleague-he'll take over
the religion course, and I'll take on his philosophy class.
Al: You're right. For example, on my web site, my students at St. Francis and DeVry can access their syllabi, teaching aides, grades, etc. I'm glad John DeSalvo hired me for online learning several years ago. It forced me to push my educational envelope. In fact, Dean Susan Friedberg, who is in charge of Academic Advancement for DeVry, and I learned online how to teach online. She taught a literature course online for St. Francis. Dean, I would like to find out a little bit about you for my Internet readers.
Dean: Well, I'm married and have four kids. Three boys between the ages of fifteen and eleven and then we have a young daughter, who will turn four in April. It has been very interesting around our home because obviously the baby runs the house as you might imagine. With a young girl in the house, the older brothers have really benefited from the interaction with her; I think that it has enriched them immensely. It has really been a good thing.
Al: I'm sure the boys see her as a wonderful little princess.
Dean: And it has tempered them and given them a different perspective on many things.
Are you familiar with Kevin Leman's book, The Birth Order Book?
Dean: I was calculating in my head, she will be ten or eleven when her last brother, if he chooses to go to college, will be out of the house for most of the year. I wonder what it will be like for her then.
Al: At least for my daughter, Michelle, (who just got married last summer) my baby, everyone was leaving her all the time. Her siblings were going to school: packing up, coming back, and leaving again. We didn't plan it that way, but that is the way it happened.
Dean: Right now my oldest is in high school and the other is in junior high. It will be kind of curious when they all start to go away to college what it will be like for her. Actually, it is happening now as the boys get more of a social life outside the home.
Al: Right now, she is the center of attention and the little
charmer. She is kind of the sun and
they are her planets. There is
nothing you can do about her siblings leaving other than to be sensitive to it.
She is the golden girl, but it won't be long before that transition
really starts to accelerate. When the boys get their driver's licenses, they will really
start spinning out of her orbit of attention.
I remember watching Michelle being left by her siblings; it was a
difficult time for her. They would
go off to college and then came back during breaks and doted over her
again-only to leave again.
Dean: There is no way around it. I guess that we just need to be aware of it and do the best you can. You can't stop the old ones from growing and moving on with their lives, and she needs to move on with her life, too.
Al: One of the things that I have discovered in my old age is that often the problems that we address creatively can become blessings. We learn from setbacks more than we do from success.
Dean: Isn't that what it takes to be successful-overcoming the hurdles of life?
Al: Absolutely. So, when it comes to your daughter, she will be unique because of the way the sun shone on her. What she needs to do is utilize her uniqueness. I don't think you have to worry too much about it. It is obvious that her parents are concerned and love her a great deal. I think that she is going to be different because her birth order was different. For me, while Michelle suffered, that suffering will make her more sensitive to those issues of separation. She is much more loving than she would have been had she been shoved into another ordinal position in her family. She needs to learn how to optimize her uniqueness just as we all should do.
Dean: That's a good point; she can't compare herself to them.
Al: Yes, she will have her limitations, but she will also have blessings-she has a loving family who think of her as the cutest thing since puppy dogs.
Dean: She knows that now.
Al: Dean, I would like to know from you what it is that you can
pass on to another generation of kids, students, or anybody who reads this.
What is it that you have learned in life that would help somebody not to
have to reinvent the wheel.
Al: How do you put that goal into action with your kids or the students here at DeVry?
Dean: Well, it takes work. You need to channel effort. If the student wants to learn, you can help them achieve their goal. When a child is struggling with a course, I know that ultimately that child will succeed. I am more troubled with a student that gets an A without effort than the one who gets a B and really tries. We ask our faculty to recognize student leaders. There are students, that aren't necessarily employed by DeVry, who help other classmates with problem-solving and setting up study groups for those that need a little bit of help. We don't want to see anyone fall through the cracks. Once we give students the opportunity to come to school, the most gratifying thing for us is to see them graduate and succeed.
Al: It is good for business and certainly will help your endowment fund.
Dean: But, if we are a good school, we become a good business. The best thing DeVry can do is put out good graduates who say, "I went to DeVry." That will do more for us than any endowment fund could ever realize.
Al: One final question: when you die, what do you want on your headstone-other than your name spelled correctly?
Dean: Educator. I want to be remembered as an educator at DeVry and at home. Left to one word as an epitaph, it would be "Educator".
Editorial comment worth noting: Dean Edwards oversees the fastest growing of all the DeVry campuses throughout North America.