Deep Springs College
|Type||Private, two year|
|Campus||Remote and rural|
Deep Springs College is a small liberal arts two-year college in Deep Springs, California, United States. With fewer than 30 students at any given time, the college is the smallest institution of higher education in the United States. After completing two years at Deep Springs, students may elect to receive an associate degree, though this seldom happens in practice. Most continue their studies at other universities, out of which two-thirds go on to earn a graduate degree, and over half eventually earn a doctorate.
Deep Springs College is in Deep Springs Valley in Inyo County, California, near the larger Owens Valley and about 25 miles (40 km) over mountain passes from the nearest town, Dyer, Nevada, and 45 miles (72 km) from the nearest town of significant size, Bishop, California.
From its founding in 1917 under the name Deep Springs, Collegiate and Preparatory, the college has been all-male, until its board voted in fall 2011 that the college would begin accepting female students in the summer of 2013. In 2012 legal challenges were lodged against the trustees' action, disputing their authority to change the admissions policy, including an injunction preventing the college from accepting female students and delaying coeducation until the 2018–2019 academic year at the earliest. On April 13, 2017, the California Court of Appeal, 4th District, decided the case of Hitz v. Hoekstra ruling that the college may admit women. On June 29, 2017, the California Supreme Court declined to hear an appeal of the California Court of Appeal decision, an action that should permit the admission of women once the college is able to complete planning procedures previously put on hold. On August 31, 2017, the Deep Springs board of trustees voted once again to admit women, starting with the class that will enter in the summer of 2018.
Organization and philosophy
Deep Springs is founded on three principles, commonly called the "three pillars": academics, labor, and self-governance.
In addition to studies, students work a minimum of 20 hours a week either on the ranch and farm attached to the college or in positions related to the college and community. Position titles have historically included cook, irrigator, butcher, groundskeeper, cowboy, "office cowboy", dairy, and feedman. Deep Springs maintains a cattle herd and an alfalfa hay farming operation. Deep Springs Ranch's brand is an inverted capital T, known according to traditional branding terminology as the "Swinging T".
Students pay only for incidental expenses such as textbooks. Tuition, room, and board are not charged, a point noted as critical by the college's founder, L. L. Nunn, in his correspondence with the early student bodies. The lack of tuition is often referred to as a full scholarship. According to Nunn, the labor program was not intended as a substitute or exchange for the scholarship or tuition, but rather as a fundamental part of the educational experience.
Self-governance is a critical part of the Deep Springs educational program. Students hold decision-making authority in determinations about admissions, curriculum, and faculty hiring. Every student serves on one of four standing committees during their time as a student: Applications (ApCom), Curriculum (CurCom), Communications (ComCom) or Review and Reinvitations (RCom). The Communications Committee (ComCom) was created in the early 1990s and charged with shaping the policies that define the college's relations with the world at large.
The college also supports three administrators, eight or nine professors, and a staff of five. Professors may not hold tenure. Three long-term professorships can be held for up to six years, and four short-term slots are filled for one or two terms of seven or fourteen weeks each.
Deep Springs was founded in 1917 by L. L. Nunn, an industrialist who made his fortune building alternating current power plants in the western United States. Nunn's first installation, a hydroelectric plant, was built in Telluride, Colorado, and has recently been restored, and another Nunn project at the Olmsted Power Station in Provo, Utah, was in operation from 1904 until 2015, and is on the National Register for Historic Places.[better source needed]
The plants required well-trained engineers capable of living under rough conditions. After failing to find suitable men from eastern schools willing to travel west, Nunn began schooling local men and found his passion for education. He eventually sold his industrial assets and put the money into two educational institutions. Nunn first founded the Telluride Association, an educational trust based at Cornell University, in 1911. Seeing his vision there undermined by its setting, he founded Deep Springs in 1917 and helped run it until his death in 1925.
To manage the college, Nunn established a board of trustees to ensure the college's long-term viability and preserve the traditions that make it educationally effective. Initially, one seat on the board was reserved for a student, however when the board expanded from 7 to 13 seats, a second seat was given to the students. The two student trustees, elected by the Student Body, have full voice and voting rights.
Deep Springs College is essentially alone in Deep Springs Valley, a geological depression between the White and Inyo mountain ranges. The nearest sizable town is Bishop, an hour by car over a mountain pass. Deep Springs's physical isolation plays a central role in the educational experience. The entire Deep Springs community (students, staff and faculty) numbers fewer than 50 individuals.
The flip-side of the isolation policy is the notion of self-sufficiency and due care latent in Nunn's notion of "stewardship". The college tries to support itself in food and more recently in energy, with a small hydroelectric power station built in the late 1980s and a solar power array finished in 2006. During peak periods, the college sells surplus power to Pacific Gas & Electric.
Deep Springs used to have a direct telephone line that crossed the White Mountains, but difficult maintenance made service unsustainable. The line was replaced in the 1980s by a wireless radio link connecting to the Bishop central office. Because the radio signal is relayed using a repeater station high in the White Mountains, and because the first relay out of Deep Springs Valley does not have line of sight, the system is subject to outages caused by high winds and inclement weather. Previously, the college's Internet connection was an unusually slow 14.4 kbit/s data channel multiplexed into the radio link. Currently, the college is connected to the Internet by satellite.
A small seismic station exists behind the main campus, installed by the former Soviet Union as part of a bi-national underground nuclear test monitoring agreement. The Natural Resources Conservation Service maintains a remotely automated weather station in the desert near the campus.
By virtue of its small enrollment, the number of alumni is low, and most continue their studies at other universities. Two-thirds go on to earn a graduate degree, and over half eventually earn a doctorate. Deep Springs alumni have been awarded Rhodes and Truman Scholarships, three MacArthur "genius grants", two Pulitzer Prizes, one Emmy award, and one E. O. Lawrence Award, among other honors. Prominent alumni include:
- Robert B. Aird, neurologist
- Nathaniel Borenstein, computer scientist
- Baird Bryant, filmmaker
- Albert Bush-Brown, architectural historian and former President of RISD
- Barney Childs, composer
- Charles Collingwood, journalist
- Edwin Cronk, diplomat
- John D'Agata, essayist
- Norton Dodge, economist
- Sean Eldridge, American political activist and former congressional candidate
- Thomas E. Fairchild, politician and federal judge
- Glen Fukushima, businessman and public servant
- Robert F. Gatje, architect and author
- Philip S. Gorski, sociologist at Yale University
- Philip Hanawalt, biologist
- David Hitz, computer engineer and co-founder of NetApp
- Park Honan, biographer
- Raymond B. Huey, biologist
- Walter Isaacson, biographer
- Raymond Jeanloz, geophysicist and MacArthur fellow
- Philip Kennicott, Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist
- Andy Kim, American politician, Congressman representing New Jersey's 3rd congressional district
- Benjamin Kunkel, novelist, founder of n+1 magazine
- John Wilson Lewis, political scientist
- James J. Martin, revisionist historian and Holocaust denier
- Zachary Mider, Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist.
- Erik Mueggler, sinologist and MacArthur fellow
- Jim Olin, U.S. Congressman
- John W. Olmsted, historian and Professor Emeritus at UC Riverside
- Vern Penner, diplomat
- Michael Putney, Emmy Award-winning television reporter
- Herbert Reich, electrical engineer and inventor
- Damon Rich, urban planner and MacArthur fellow
- Peter Rock, novelist
- Gerard Saucier, Professor of Psychology at the University of Oregon
- Gus Simmons, mathematician and cryptographer, E. O. Lawrence award winner
- G. William Skinner, anthropologist
- Robert Sproull, physicist and educator
- Julian Steward, anthropologist
- William L. Sullivan, author of outdoor guide books
- Oscar Tuazon, artist
- William vanden Heuvel, diplomat
- William T. Vollmann, novelist
- Graeme Wood, journalist
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- Scott Jaschik (January 11, 2012). "Women Blocked at Deep Springs". Inside Higher Ed. Retrieved January 12, 2012.
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- "Deep Springs Board Votes to Admit Women | Inside Higher Ed". Retrieved 2017-09-01.
- Olmsted Station Powerhouse
- "Olmsted Hydroelectric Power Plant Replacement Project". www.olmstedhydro.com.
- "To contact us, call your long distance carrier and ask for Deep Springs Toll Station #2." A toll station was a non-dialable point – effectively, a single line manual exchange with no local calling area and one lone subscriber. The only way to call in was to have a long-distance operator ring the inward operator in Victorville (routing code 619+058+121) who would then put the call through manually. "Deep Springs Toll Station #2." was the published number until 1987; an attempt to call this in 1989 reported "not in service". – The inward operator, Telecom Digest (listserv), Robert E. Seastrom; 1989
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