Talk:SIT Graduate Institute
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How could anyone write …” North America's leading college-level program in Esperanto,” and stop there? What’s the punch line?
Strategic Change Process
Currently the school is undergoing a strategic (?) change process which will drastically reduce the MAT program to around 30 students. (SIT's MAT program graduated 83 students during the 2006-2007 academic year.) Furthermore, the administration is "right-sizing" the staff from 9.5 to 4. Their sole justification for these changes is an undocumented figure of a "$700,000 deficit". The figure is hard to believe since it appears to be larger than the actual operating budget of the program. Many different numbers have been assigned to the deficit figure throughout this process. [History: The president has replaced all senior management, mostly with people unfamiliar with the fields the organization operates in. Not surprising morale is on a year-on-year downward spiral according to the organization's own "institutional health survey".]
These changes have had a great impact on the SIT community climate. Many MAT and PIM students, faculty, and alums are very upset.
History of changes
On January 10th, 2008 the president and provost of S.I.T. (School for International Training) presented plans to cut the MAT programs, fire half of the faculty and drastically reduce the amount of students allowed to attend the programs. Also unveiled were plans to change the PIM programs, shifting away from the Brattleboro, Vermont campus, and focusing on moving programs out of country to sites existing abroad, with initial test sites to include Oman and Uganda. Students began asking a number of difficult questions about how to maintain the international campus and non-imperialistic values under the proposed model. Students also questioned if the potential program changes followed a model with projections for financial sustainability, and would ensure quality control of curriculum offered.
The January 10th meeting, which occurred while the majority of the MAT students were out of the country on internships, and many professors were away supervising, presented faculty with an underwhelming amount of information; the details showed nothing of the proposal made by MAT professors and lacked a fluid financial model. After 13 months of planning, the MAT faculty believed that their efforts would lead to an improvement and scaling up of their programs. Unexpectedly, the Administration presented them with an alternative plan. They were handed three lines that conveyed their plans to scale-down the MAT program. The following lines highlight the scaling down efforts:
- 5 full time faculty will be fired
- The MAT program will cap at 30 students
- 1 MAT faculty will run the MAT Summer Program
The administrations’ plans did not mention the year-long cumulative efforts of the MAT faculty to develop alternative plans that would meet the administration's criteria. It was later said that the faculty’s plans did not meet with the administration’s financial criteria. The administration further insulted the MAT faculty after demanding an unrealistic time period to reduce the program deficit. It was obvious that the administration already had their plan to reduce the program, and was not interested in the MAT faculty’s proposals. Just to be clear, the administrative plan requested that the board approve cutting the MAT faculty from 9.5 full time faculty members to four for the academic year and one for the summer program, thereby making it necessary to cut degree tracks from the program.
On January 28th students heard the administration present their ideas for program changes. During this meeting the students listened to the administration “sell” the program. To the shock and awe of MAT students, and the already disappointed MAT faculty, the administration revealed the changes. The administration’s agenda was clear: they wanted financial results. The administration’s austere decisions disempowered the faculty and students, who were told that the Board of Trustees had already approved the administration’s proposal.
On January 10th, the MAT program was changed forever. On January 28th students asked in vain why all the cuts were coming from the MAT program. Despite repeated requests for explanations of the changes, justification has yet to be given. When students asked for financial justification for the cuts, the administration did not give a clear answer. So far the administration has not brought forth evidence that their financial models are viable or sustainable. No plans are currently being made to sustain the MAT program. Serious doubt has come from students, staff and faculty that the graduate program has any future at all.
The weekend of February the 2nd and 3rd, four days later, the Board of Trustees made a decision to go ahead with the plans presented by the president and the provost. There were no representatives from the MAT community present in the meetings with the board. MAT students were not in the area while this change making process was occurring, were not given time to react, and were discouraged to speak against any changes to be made.
Concerns: The SIT community contests the following actions of the administration:
- The administrative actions are not in line with the participatory mission of both SIT and World Learning, a mission which places high value on working to ensure people’s rights to be involved in the decisions of their government.
- There is a lack of financial data presented to support the claims that MAT is less financially stable than other programs.
- The administration has continually asked for questions and concerns, and has yet to answer them adequately.
Protests are underway. Those with a deep investment in the graduate schools programs (i.e. teachers, professors, and so forth) are concerned that SIT is becoming part of the trends coined as “the Corporatization of Higher Education,” in which decisions about program changes are made in a top-down manner.
Some indications of what we consider to be a trend at World Learning and that contradict SIT’s pedagogy and core values include:
- The focus is on money. There is less focus on quality education. For example, there is no logic in decreasing the number of professors to increase the quality of programs.
- The reduction of public space on the Brattleboro campus that makes community building and collaboration difficult if not impossible.
- Symbolic changes indicating a different way of working within the organization that is more corporate in style. The top-down approach of the administration is highlighted by the new language around “Senior Management” and the ways in which the changes were communicated to students, faculty and staff.
- Resource mismanagement which occurred during the re-branding of the organization. Across the organization, all offices and departments were told to expunge old materials and bring in the new. This caused massive dumping in many departments of paper and plastic material.
- The growth of marketing efforts. The organization secures resources to supply marketing materials. This becomes a growing effort of the organization and thus secures more of the limited resources of the organization. At the same time, other departments are being asked to scale back.
- A growing focus on strict management practices (an article posted by Human Resource was recently made available to World Learning managers called, “Hot Management: Reclaiming Your Role as a Manager”) that are at odds with the organizational culture.
- The creation of “Global Instruction Sites” concerns us. The primarily financial motivations behind creating these sites and the potentially imperialistic nature of their impact are troubling to us. We are concerned with how these changes will affect the diversity of the students in the graduate program. We do not believe that these programs as described to us are in line with the values and philosophy of SIT or its students.
Alumni – approx 2,800 since 1967
- 2008 conference chair and president-elect, Northern New England TESOL (Jessica Trewhella)
- President, Texas TESOL (Bart Chaney)
- 2006 conference chair, California TESOL (Gregory Anderson)
- Founding director, MA in Teaching Language, Bennington College (Carol Meyer)
- President, International Association of Teachers of English as a Foreign Language (Susan Barduhn)
- President, TESOL (Donald Freeman)
- Professor of English Language, Tokyo Gakuin University (Andy Hockersmith)
- Professor of English Language, Sookmyeung Women's University (Steve Iams)
- Senior English Language Fellow, US State Department Mozambique (Akisha Pearman)
- Founder, International Campaign to Ban Landmines & Nobel Peace Laureate (Jody Williams)
- Editor-in-chief, The Essential Teacher (TESOL's flagship publication) (Eileen Whalen Ariza)
- Columnist, The Essential Teacher (Dorothy Zemach)
- Regional English Language Officer, US State Department (Thomas Santos)
- 2007 Plenary speaker, Japan Association for Language Teaching (Ryuko Kubota)
- 2008 Plenary speaker, International Association of Teachers of English as a Foreign Language (Radmila Popovic)
- Literacy through Art teacher, Manhattan International School (Erika Tuttle)
- Founder, AmeriTalk (an ESL consultancy) (Melody Noll)
- Director of Education and Training, DeAnza College (Gregory Anderson)
- All 3 interns presenting at Costa Rica TESOL (none had prior teaching experience) were offered full-time jobs half-way through their degree study, January 2008
- Typically, about one-third of AYMATs have long-term employment BEFORE the end of the second semester
- 6 - 8 Fulbright placement requests per year
- 2 – 3 International Ford Foundation fellows per year
- 83 graduates, 2006-07 (Monterey had 27)
- 83 graduates with 9.5 faculty suggests a student teacher ratio of 8.7
- Alumni satisfied with quality of education, 97%
- Only teacher preparation program in 2005 to receive commendation in every category evaluated, Vermont Department of Education
Worldwide changes indicate increasing need for language teachers
- The US is awakening to the need for foreign language learning as part of public education even as experienced FL teachers have begun to retire. There is increasing enrollment in foreign language programs as well as a diversifying of languages offered. There is an increasing need for FL teachers that focus on communicative use of second language. (2005: ACTFL, NADSFL)
- The number of English learners is expected to reach double between 2003 and 2013. (Graddol, British Council)
Major update needed
Reading and re-reading SIT's website, it seems clear that a major update is needed for this article:
- The School for International Training apparently has not existed since 2007.
- Much of what used to be called the School for International Training is now the SIT Graduate Institute, with classes in VT and DC. Some of this article could or should be spun off to a new article, SIT Graduate Institute.
- In addition to the above, there is now also a separate unit called SIT Study Abroad. This could be a separate article, or added/ integrated under World Learning.
- Both are units of SIT, which in turn is wholly run by World Learning. Formally, SIT may be an accredited educational institution, and the Graduate Institute and Study Abroad may be divisions or departments within it. Formalities aside, I'm not sure a separate SIT article makes sense -- better to integrate any relevant material into the World Learning article?
- One other possibility is that some of this could be spun off to a separate History of the School of International Training article... Just a thought. DA Sonnenfeld (talk) 21:37, 15 May 2012 (UTC)
Head of school?
It's not clear who is most appropriate to include in this article as head of the SIT Graduate Institute. Three possibilities, from the SIT Graduate Institute website:
- Adam S. Weinberg, President and CEO, World Learning; President, SIT
- John Lucas, Sr. Vice President for Academic Programs and Chief Academic Officer, World Learning
- Preeti Shroff-Mehta, Dean, SIT Graduate Institute
- Well, looking at the SIT Graduate Institute viewbook -- where the only executive officer mentioned is Dr. Weinberg -- and thinking about it further, now I'm thinking that he is the most appropriate person to list... I can't think of too many schools where the Provost or Dean of Graduate Studies would be listed; top billing goes to the formal executive officer. DA Sonnenfeld (talk) 18:37, 16 May 2012 (UTC)