Dear Saybrook Community:
Our university has always been made stronger by forging well thought out partnerships with other institutions.
Whether that has meant connecting with individual scholars who are leaders in their field to serve as thesis advisors or contributors to our scholarly blogs, or connecting with educational institutions such as the Jung Center of Houston, the Academy of Counselors Japan, and the Universidad del Sur in Chiapas, working with partners who share our values improves our ability to serve our students and supports our mission in the world.
We live in a time when any human emotion is seen as “treatable” by drugs; a time when organizations are desperately searching for ways to better organize and sustain communities; a time when the potential of new technologies for social transformation seems boundless, but is so far untested.
We live in a time when the world needs humanistic psychologists, organizational change agents, and new medicine. Now more than ever.
After 40 years, Saybrook University remains the intellectual home of humanistic scholarship. But are we doing enough?
As we conclude our 40th anniversary year, it’s a good moment to take stock of the state of the University. The significant changes of the last several months allow us to re-evaluate our assumptions from the time the University was founded in 2009 and will reinvigorate our approach to the New Directions of the future.
The changes can, on the one hand, be described simply: we evolved from a University with three Colleges to one with four Schools. But, in terms of the additional structural aspects of our nascent transformation, we have changed more than nomenclature (colleges to schools) and number (3 to 4).
Saybrook University President Mark Schulman encourages universities to join Saybrook's stand and demand DSM-5 changes be reconsidered06/27/2012
Saybrook University president Mark Schulman says the evidence is clear: psychology and psychiatry’s over reliance on drugs as a form of treatment is tantamount to malpractice.
Writing on the Huffington Post, Schulman says colleges that teach psychology must rise to the challenge, making sure their students are as familiar with the techniques of talk therapy – and the importance of communicating with patients – as they with are neurotransmitters and brain physiology.
Earlier this month the Saybrook Board of Trustees unanimously selected Mark Schulman to serve as Saybrook’s next president. Currently serving as President of Goddard College in Vermont and Washington, whose endowment he has tripled while increasing its enrollment, Mark has also served as President and Professor of Humanities at Antioch University Southern California; and Academic Vice President, Dean of the College, and Associate Professor at Pacific Oaks College (California and Washington). He has held faculty positions at the New School for Social Research (New York), City College of New York, Saint Mary’s College of California, and others.
Mark received his PhD in Communications from the Union Institute and has consulted and published extensively on higher education and communications strategies and issues.
He spoke with the Saybrook Forum last week. The following is an edited transcript of that interview.
SAYBROOK FORUM: Your degrees are in, in this order: literature (for undergrad); instructional systems technology (as an MS); and communications (for a PhD). Intellectually, what was the path from one to the next? How did you get from there to here?
MARK SCHULMAN: “Ever since high school I’d been a print journalist, and I’d always been interested in underground media, alternative media. In fact I put together an underground paper in high school and got in trouble with the administration because they didn’t like some of the words in it. By the time I got to college there were a lot of things involving communications as a field of study that I was interested in. As an undergraduate, I did a lot of work in film, and was very involved in it, and I was still involved in print journalism, but at the time these were all subsumed under the field of ‘literature’ as a major. So I majored in ‘literature’ at Antioch in order to do all of that.
The opportunity to go to Indiana University (for an MS) came in a time when jargon was accelerating – do you remember when trash collectors were being called ‘sanitation engineers?’ – and so while I was technically going to school for ‘instructional systems technology,’ what I was really interested in was educational media. Communications again. That’s what I was studying. Among other things, getting this degree gave me access to equipment so that I could do my own media work. Very practical, hands on, work - that was what I was passionate about doing. And I did that, but then I just kind of got the bug to be a teacher, and then an administrator in the sense of setting up programs, and got more and more into communications as a department, as a field.
After about 10 years of doing that I decided to go to Union Institute, which is somewhat similar to Saybrook in its focus on the learner (that was extremely important to me) because over time I’d become much more involved in scholarship in the theory of communications. So I did a lot of interesting work in communications theory, sort of tying everything I’d been doing together while working on neighborhood radio, and I put a non-profit low power radio station on the air for Harlem, and this was part of the new emerging field of community communication.
So the thread between them is using media and working in media, which then became transformed into thinking about media and being engaged in media studies in a scholarly way, and then finally putting programs together for media in a scholarly context and institution.
At a couple of different points in my life I’d actually considered going into print journalism as a career - I’d always been interested in combining the skills of journalism with a commitment of social justice - and sometimes I do wonder if I made the right move going into education. I really do love working in journalism and working with media.”
“Higher education is changing radically,” says Bob Schmitt, Saybrook’s new interim president. “There are people who say that in 20 years, you won’t recognize higher education, that’s how much it will change. I think Saybrook, with its humanistic values and experience with distance learning, has a compelling role to play in this new environment as a stimulator and a leader. I think, if we take up this challenge, it has a greater role to play.”
The former president of the Institute for Transpersonal Psychology (ITP), a hospice chaplin, and a counselor, Schmitt says his biggest goal is a “smooth transition” from Lorne Buchman’s presidency to the next permanent president. He and the Executive Committee of the Board of Trustees are in the process of determining his specific goals and priorities for his time here - which he estimates at anywhere from three to nine months. Schmitt added that his top priority these first few weeks is getting to know people and the present needs of the school. He emphasized that he wants to be accessible and encourages members of the Saybrook community to contact him.
Schmitt spoke with the Saybrook Forum on his first day at Saybrook. An edited transcript of that interview is below.
Saybrook Forum (Forum): You sat on the board of the APA’s Division for Humanistic Psychology for a number of years. What was your impression of Saybrook back then?
Bob Schmitt (Schmitt): “I was intrigued by it and liked it. I thought that ITP and Saybrook were sister schools. I’d hoped that we would collaborate in as many ways as possible. At one point I was part of a discussion about a merger between the two schools. What I was especially intrigued about with Saybrook, then and now, is how well it handles distance education. I think that distance education is the real wave of the future. Not that everybody’s going to do it, but it’s going to impact all forms of education, and Saybrook’s ahead of the curve in terms of understanding how to make it work.”
October 9 will be Saybrook President Lorne Buchman’s last day on the job – although he will remain on Saybrook’s Board of Trustees for at least a year.
In an interview with the Saybrook Forum, President Buchman – better known across Saybrook as “Lorne” – said that he has been personally inspired by much of the work Saybrook faculty have conducted during his tenure as president. He leaves with a richer education in humanistic thought that has inspired him to believe more deeply in the potential of people around him, and to try and lead accordingly.
The man who first envisioned Saybrook as a university, Lorne has overseen a remarkable period of growth in Saybrook’s history. “We went back to the roots of our mission and expanded from there,” he said. “New life has been given to an educational tradition that started at Saybrook 40 years ago, and maybe the most remarkable thing of all is to realize how pertinent and vital are the values of that tradition within the contemporary discourse.”
Still, he emphasized, in the end it is all about the basics: the relationship between students and teachers, and enabling great education. “I think that the measure of our work together will be the extent to which our students feel a sense of gratitude toward the education they received at Saybrook.”
An edited version of the Saybrook Forum’s interview with Lorne Buchman is provided in its entirety below.
Saybrook Forum (SF): One of the things I hear most from alumni and students is how their experience at Saybrook was a transformative one. How much it changed them. Does that go all the way up to the top? Was Saybrook a transformative experience for you as well?
Lorne Buchman (Lorne): “Absolutely. Very much so. I think what’s happened to me is that I have, over time, internalized the values of Saybrook and its mission in a very deep way. That has affected my way of thinking about higher education and its possibilities, it has affected the way I want to encourage and lead community, it has brought me to a place where I understand the significance of a values-driven education in a way that I hadn’t before.
“I had certainly been compelled by my previous experience in education for creative people, for artists, for scholars in theatre and literature – I understood deeply the openings that can be created for people in a rigorous, creative, and intellectually rich education. But there is something profound in the unique values of Saybrook that have gone to the core and have impacted how I lead Saybrook and how I hope to live my own personal life.”
SF: Which values most come to mind?
Lorne: “It begins with a fundamental belief in the creative potential of each individual and with a belief that each individual has the capacity to go deep within to know themselves: and that the combination can produce astonishing results for positive change.”
The Saybrook Forum represents an initiative designed specifically to enhance communication among the constituents of our community. Our dispersed environment presents several challenges to sustaining community and the spirit of this newsletter – as is the case with the several programmatic newsletters already in publication -- is to support a more cohesive and coherent Saybrook.
You will be receiving this communication on a regular basis – every other week to start. In it you will be able to read about developments at Saybrook in a variety of areas – student and alumni achievement, faculty publications, lectures, accomplishments, strategic planning development, events and public programs, etc. I also hope the newsletter will be a forum for exploration of issues and world events pertinent to graduate education in the disciplines we teach, thoughts on pressing issues in our various fields of study and research, editorials on institutional challenges and issues, creative writing, and so forth. We can make this newsletter whatever we want it to be, from a forum that publishes abstracts of (and links to) substantive essays to routine announcements of events and personnel developments -- and everything in between. It will be exciting, to be sure, to witness its evolution.