by Cherylann Block Sabraw (School of Education, 1972)
Although I broke my father’s heart when I transferred from USC to the University of the Pacific in Stockton, California, my decision to attend this small liberal arts gem in California’s Central Valley was a good one.
My days spent at UOP were thoughtful ones as I took my studies in English and education seriously. So seriously, that the professors at the School of Education–now known as the Bernerd School of Education–invited me to be the student speaker for the 1972 graduation.
My speech, titled” The Great Teacher” I delivered as a naive 21-year-old on her way to making the education of our youth substantive.
For 42 years I endeavored to be the main character in my speech.
In other words, I have been an alumna who should have made the University of the Pacific proud, from whom the university might have sought ideas in addition to monetary donations.
Last month, an announcement for a speaker coming to the Bernerd School of Education slipped into my email box, inviting attendance at an event where Renato P. Almanzor was the speaker.
He is, the email text read, ” …a transformation catalyst whose experience emerges from dedicating over 30 years to developing leaders committed to equitable communities, multicultural organizations and social justice. An expert in leading social change, he has taught at a number of universities and currently teaches leadership at CSU Humboldt. Almanzor also has held executive roles at UC Berkeley and Oakland Unified School District….”
In the State of California where test scores and student abilities to write, compute, and calculate rank 44th out 50 in K-12 education, we are inviting speakers focused on social justice, equitable communities and multicultural organizations? Really?
Within a week of this email, a young man called our home at dinnertime to solicit donations for UOP.
” You know, I am not sure the University represents my values any more,” I said. ” For example, I just received an email from the School of Education, advertising a speaker who is known for focusing on equitable communities, multicultural organizations, and social justice when most speakers ought to be concerned with the quality of education being delivered in the State of California.”
I went on, ” In my 42-year experience in education teaching students of all races, religions, and ages (including business students at Stanford’s Graduate School of Business) and in the academy I founded in 1998 , I observed that people are people, hungry for the knowledge they need to succeed in their next educational or vocational choices.”
After several minutes, I realized no one was on the other end of the phone line. How long I had been speaking to the flowers on my kitchen counter or to my old yellow Labrador rolling her big brown eyes, I do not know.
My donations are over to the University of the Pacific.
Perhaps I will now direct my educational funds to St. John’s College in Santa Fe, New Mexico, where education is the main goal of the university.
As UOP searches for a new president, it may want to consider getting back to basics and away from programs that fragment rather than unify people.
Those are my suggestions to the search committee for a new president.