Thursday, June 23, 2022

Happy Fiftieth Anniversary: Pell Grant and Title IX

Happy Fiftieth Anniversary: Pell Grant and Title IX

Fifty years ago today Title IX and the Pell Grant came into being. These programs are two of the most important and effective efforts to expand access and equity in higher education. 

Title IX laid the groundwork for gender equity in education. We need to continue our progress on these important efforts, but these 37 changed American education for the better, forever.

“No person in the United States shall, on the basis of sex, be excluded from participation in, be denied the benefits of, or be subjected to discrimination under any education program or activity receiving Federal financial assistance.” — Title IX Education Amendment of 1972 

During the past 50 years, over 80 million American students have been able to attend college because of the Pell Grant. Today, doubling Pell would make a college degree affordable for every American.

Below, I have pasted a message from Barbara Mistick, President of NAICU (National Association of Independent Colleges and Universities) about the Pell Grant anniversary, and a copy of our campus announcement celebrating the anniversary of the adoption of Title IX.

Dear Colleague:
Today is the day! Today, we celebrate the 50th anniversary of the Pell Grant program.  Throughout its history, the Pell Grant has provided a pathway to higher education for more than 80 million students nationwide.  It is truly a federal student aid program that has had a multi-generational impact on American families.
There have been events and celebrations throughout the week here in Washington, DC and around the country highlighting the impact the Pell Grant has had on so many. Yesterday, the House proposed a $500 increase in the Pell maximum award.  In a bipartisan and bicameral move today, there are resolutions in both the House and Senate recognizing June 23 as National Federal Pell Grant Day. The White House also released a proclamation declaring today the 50th Anniversary of the Federal Pell Grant program.  Throughout the day, Members of Congress will also be making floor speeches celebrating the Pell Grant.  
Finally, later today, NAICU is co-hosting a Pell Grant 50th Anniversary reception on Capitol Hill with the Pell Anniversary Committee that will include Members of Congress, representatives from the Biden Administration, and other higher education leaders and policy makers.
The Pell Grant program remains the fairest and most efficient way to help low-income and first-generation students access and complete college and enter the workforce. However, additional grant aid is needed. That is why we support doubling the Pell Grant maximum award to $13,000.

So, on this day marking 50 years of the Pell Grant, we celebrate the impact it has had on so many students and families but also highlight the continued work that must be undertaken to ensure that the maximum award is increased as quickly as possible, putting these expanded resources in the hands of students sooner rather than later. 

Thank you for all you have done to engage with these efforts to raise awareness of the importance of the Pell Grant. Happy National Federal Pell Grant Day!
 Barbara K. Mistick, D.M.
 National Association of Independent Colleges and Universities

National Association of Independent Colleges and Universities
1025 Connecticut Ave., NW, Suite 700, Washington, DC 20036

June 23, 2022

“No person in the United States shall, on the basis of sex, be excluded from participation in, be denied the benefits of, or be subjected to discrimination under any education program or activity receiving Federal financial assistance.” — Title IX Education Amendment of 1972 

Today, June 23, marks the 50th anniversary that those 37 words forever changed the landscape of the education system across the United States.  

Building upon the language and momentum of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, Representatives Edith Green, Shirley Chisholm, the first Black U.S. congresswoman, and Patsy T. Mink, the first woman of color elected to Congress, collaborated on the authorship of Title IX, one of several education amendments passed in 1972.   

Shortly after its passing, Susquehanna University moved quickly to comply when President Gustave Weber appointed a seven-member task force, the Committee to Review Compliance with Title IX, and charged it to audit four areas: athletics, instructional affairs, employment/personnel policies and student affairs.  

Below are several of SU’s notable gender-equity achievements to date:  
  • Athletics: 1960–1961 marked the first intercollegiate schedule for two women’s sports teams: field hockey and basketball. Today, SU hosts 12 women’s/co-ed sports teams.

  • Admission: Susquehanna became coeducational in 1873, sooner than many of its peers. Today, 56% of students enrolled at SU are women.

  • Academic Programs: Prior to Title IX, many institutions barred women from majoring in the sciences. The curriculum was constructed around men’s experiences — even at SU, which in 1970 implemented a Core Program geared toward the “man’s total experience.” Fast-forward to 2022, where 60% of students enrolled in our sciences are women and our women’s and gender studies minor, which launched in 1990, is one of the largest academic minors at the institution.

  • Support for Survivors of Violence: Dating back to the 1970s, the Association of Women Students offered information pamphlets for survivors of violence to seek local support and resources. Today, we have a robust partnership with Transitions of PA. It provides a 24/7 hotline available to our students as well as a full-time on-campus victim advocate housed in our Violence Intervention and Prevention Center, which opened in 2018.

  • Parenting Support: Launched in 1969, the Association of Women Students began offering babysitting services for women faculty and staff. This fall, we will open two campus lactation rooms and help employees temporarily retrofit their offices for breastfeeding.

  • Title IX Staffing: SU recently added a full-time, standalone Title IX coordinator to its staff. While many similarly sized institutions attach this role’s responsibilities to other positions and have even defunded some of their Title IX offices, SU remains dedicated to the work with a full-time director of Title IX compliance and a robust team, which includes seven university employees and three external partners.   

  • Employee Demographics: Like much of academia, early roles for women at Susquehanna were often relegated to administrative support and there were few to no women faculty or administrators. Now, 50% of faculty and 64% of full-time staff are women. Additionally, five of the seven (71%) executive board of trustee members and six out of 14 (43%) senior leadership team members are women.
We uphold the legacy of Title IX on this anniversary and every day because we truly believe that no one should be excluded from opportunities to fully participate in educational experiences based on their gender.



We look forward to celebrating and affirming our commitment with you during Susquehanna University’s Title IX 50th Anniversary Celebration Week taking place Sept. 5–9. 


Looking back 50 years ... 

Susquehanna students rallied on campus in support of Title IX in the early 1970s.  
Yearbook caption: Sue Eastburn, front, and Margy DuVal join athletes and coaches around the nation fighting for equality in intercollegiate sports. Title IX forced colleges and universities to provide equal opportunities for women and men.


Friday, June 17, 2022

Pomp and Circumstance


Pomp and Circumstance


Throughout graduation season, I have had a variety of conversations about the traditions, pageantry, and symbolism connected to commencement ceremonies and the trappings of the academy.


I thought it would be timely to share some of the arcana that arises most frequently in those conversations.


Academic Regalia


During formal academic gatherings, faculty and often students will appear in academic regalia. There are different robes for each degree. There is an Intercollegiate Code on Academic Costume, which was established in the 1895 and has been amended a number of times since. Many institutions have in-house practices that deviate from these standards.




·      Bachelor’s robes have closed sleeves.


·      Master’s robes have extended oblong sleeve that hang below the wrist. I have been told that this is a vestige from a time when early scholars had a nook in their sleeves to keep their hands warm in unheated medieval environments.


·      Doctoral robes in the U.S. typically have bell shaped sleeves with three velvet stripes. Those stripes may be black, or the color of the discipline. Presidents of colleges and universities may have four stripes on their sleeves. I still wear my 30-year-old three-striped model, which was a graduation present from my wife.




·      There are hoods associated with each degree as well. They combine satin in the institution’s colors with velvet or velveteen in the color of the discipline.


·      Bachelor’s hoods are no longer the norm, but many institutions, including Susquehanna still use them. These are 3 feet long with 2-inch wide trim.


·      Master’s hoods are 3.5 feet long with 3-inch wide trim. These have an oblong extension that mirrors the dangling sleeve of the master’s robe.


·      Doctoral hoods are 4 feet long with 5-inch wide trim.


·      Part of commencement at many institutions involves the “hooding” of graduate-degree candidates. At large institutions, this is sometimes done on the school level independent of the graduation ceremony.


Special Robes


Many institutions have customized robes for their graduates. The bodies of these robes are typically in a color(s) associated with the institution and often include an insignia, often the shield, of the university on the front velvet panels of the robe.


Here is an example from Boston University:



The Intercollegiate Code standardized colors for each academic discipline, which can be used for all of the velvet portions of the regalia. The default velvet color is black. Dark blue, which is aligned with philosophy is often the stand in for Ph.D. degrees is a variety of disciplines, but that is usually the choice of the consumer.


Here is a list of colors aligned with academic disciplines from Wikipedia[1]







Arts (liberal arts), letters (literature), humanities


Commerce, accountancy, business







Light blue



Fine arts, architecture


Forestry, environmental studies, sustainability






Library science, Information science








Oratory, communications studies, broadcasting

Silver gray


Olive green


Dark blue

Physical education, manual therapy, physical therapy

Sage Green

Public administration, public policy, foreign service

Peacock blue

Public health


Science (social, natural and formal)

Golden yellow

Social work


Theology, divinity


Veterinary science





The word baccalaureate mean’s bachelor referring to the undergraduate degree. The word is derived from bacca lauri meaning laurel berry, referring to laurel wreaths placed upon the heads of individuals honored for their achievement in ancient times.


In modern times, baccalaureate is also the name for a ceremony, often religious, held at educational institutions before commencement. These typically include a “valedictory,” which is literally a farewell speech to the graduating class. The term valedictorian has come to be used to identify the graduate with the highest GPA because historically they gave that address to the class.


Much of the early history of grades in American higher education was associated with creating a way to determine which student would give that speech.


Honorary Degrees


Colleges and Universities often confer honorary degrees to individuals of extraordinary accomplishment or service. The earliest known example of this practice was at Oxford University. In 1479, Oxford awarded an honorary degree to Lionel Woodville in recognition of his meritorious service as Chancellor of the University. He later became the Bishop of Salisbury.


Pomp and Circumstance


The British composer, Sir Edward Elgar, composed 5 Marches, which comprise his opus 39. The first was completed in 1901. It was premiered along with No. 2 on a concert in Liverpool on 19 October 1901 and was an immediate success.


In 1905, the trio section was played at the commencement ceremony at Yale University where Elgar was the recipient of an honorary degree. This portion of the march has since been played at many graduation ceremonies in the U.S. and Canada.


In England, that trio is known as “Land of Hope and Glory.” Elgar adapted it for choir as part of his Coronation Ode for King Edward VII.




At most higher education institutions, a Faculty Marshall will lead academic processions carrying a symbolic mace designed specifically for that institution. The practice began in the 17th century in England. The mace was modeled on ancient battle clubs, but now represents the power of academic freedom and intellectual autonomy.


At many institutions, the Marshall / mace bearer is an appointed or elected position. At some, it is an honor bestowed on the longest-serving faculty member. At one institution where I worked, the mace bearer was the previous year’s winner of the outstanding professor award.


The mace at Susquehanna was a gift of the Class of 1963. It was first used at our 108th commencement on 30 May 1966. It was made by Hurst, Franklin & Co., Ltd., metalsmiths of London.


Around the edge of the silver bowl which tops our mace is the University’s motto, Ad Gloriam Maiorem Dei (To the greater glory of God). There are four rondels portraying: an itinerant preacher on horseback, the Seal of Pennsylvania, Selinsgrove Hall, and Martin Luther’s Coat-of-Arms. There are also 32 stars representing the states in the U.S. at the time of the University’s founding in 1858. The top of the mace is a three-dimensional rendering of the University’s Seal.


The same Seal is at the center of the ceremonial chain, or President’s Seal of Office, that I wear at all formal academic events. It was first worn by President Weber at the same ceremony at which the mace was introduced.[2]

[2] Special thanks to Carl Moyer for sharing a copy of the official guide to The Mace and President’s Seal of Office – Susquehanna University.

Monday, May 30, 2022

We are Saved by Love


We are Saved by Love


[These were my remarks to the class of 2022 at their commencement on Saturday.]


It is an especially tough time to be a 21 or 22-year-old. Frankly, it’s not the easiest time to be a 58-year-old.


When most of you arrived at SU, none of us could have anticipated the tumultuous events of the past four years. As we welcomed you on August 23rd 2018, I spoke about our academic theme of Resilience stating:


The Liberal Arts provide us with an array of viewpoints and historical perspectives so we can better contextualize and understand the challenges we encounter in our lives.


In anticipation of the myriad inevitabilities we all face, you are here to develop the tools to live your lives as fully as you can, to respond to challenges with grit and poise, and to lift up those around us whose resolve is spent.


I then spoke about the need to be courageous:


Courage and bravery are not the same thing. Often the only difference between bravery and stupidity is who’s telling the tale. Courage, on the other hand, is deep. It is built upon faith and wisdom, and fundamentally, it is selfless. You are here to seek wisdom and to develop the moral courage to become leaders of consequence, to become resilient, and to cultivate resilience in those around you.


Little did any of us know how this would be tested and proved again and again throughout your matriculation.


A global pandemic, an eruption of social unrest in response to systemic inequities, an attack on our nation’s capital by bands of its own citizens, and a major world power waging war on a neighboring democracy; senseless mass shootings, climate change, continual assaults on the truth, and politicization of fundamental moral principles. We are fraying, and we are afraid.


Now sounding prophetic, I recited this passage from William Butler Yeats’s poem “The Second Coming,” at your opening convocation:


Turning and turning in the widening gyre
The falcon cannot hear the falconer;
Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold;
Mere anarchy is loosed upon the world,
The blood-dimmed tide is loosed, and everywhere
The ceremony of innocence is drowned;
The best lack all conviction, while the worst
Are full of passionate intensity.[1]


Written a century ago, it sounds as if Yeats is describing this moment in history. Maybe it would have rung as true a century before he wrote it, or even a century before then.


Perhaps Dickens’s description is evergreen, and it has always been the best of times and the worst of times, but I am more optimistic for the future because of you. I believe you are capable of relegating our worst times to the past.


I believe this because I have seen what you are capable of doing;

I believe this because I know what you have learned; and

I believe this because I have witnessed your kindness, your compassion, your passion, and your goodness countless times as we have journeyed together.


You persevered when you were scattered across the nation and the globe unable to return to campus.


You added your voices to the millions who advocated for justice in its many forms in your communities and on our campus. You listened to the smallest voices and echoed them so all might hear.


You took care of each other, you made sacrifices to keep each other safe and healthy, and pushing against seemingly infinite resistance from the world around us, you arrived at this spot. You have made our mission statement manifest.


Those of you who know it, please join me.


Susquehanna University educates students for productive, creative, and reflective lives of achievement, leadership, and service in a diverse, dynamic, and interdependent world.


This is not a pithy slogan. It is the foundation of global citizenship and the fruit of a liberal education. Over the coming years, I hope you will reflect on how these lofty goals continue to unfold in your own lives and how your unprecedented experiences at Susquehanna have cultivated your capacity to live this mission to its fullest.


This is what our weary, hungry world needs – your driven achievement, your selfless leadership, your committed service, and, most of all, your moral courage.


Our democracy was biproduct of the Scottish Enlightenment, which embraced the humanist spirit of the Western Enlightenment that celebrated the nobility and worth of each individual and valued the respective reason they possessed. The Scottish Enlightenment took this further by rejecting authority that was not likewise governed by reason.


This balance of individual autonomy and collective coherence has been critical to the survival of our republic and to that of subsequent democracies around the world. Our future as a nation and as a global community depends upon our ability to inclusively embrace all peoples, to reconcile what is true, and to govern ourselves through reason for the common good.


You have seen first-hand how truly interdependent we are. We are able to be here today because you chose to work as a community for the common good, and nearly every setback we experienced resulted from a moment when someone lost sight of that. As leaders, you must always choose the common good.


Reinhold Niebuhr wrote: “Nothing worth doing is completed in our lifetime; therefore, we must be saved by hope. Nothing true or beautiful or good makes complete sense in any immediate context of history; therefore, we must be saved by faith. Nothing we do, however virtuous, can be accomplished alone; therefore, we are saved by love.”[2]


Our progress will require hope, faith, and love – these you have in abundance.


Class of 2022, you are graduating into an alarmingly broken world, but I am hopeful because I know what you can do. I am so proud of you, of what you have accomplished, and even prouder of what you will achieve.




[1] Yeats, William Butler: “The Second Coming (1919),” in The Collected Poems of W. B. Yeats, revised second edition, edited by Richard J. Finneran. New York: Scribner Paperback Poetry, 1996.

[2] Niebuhr, Reinhold: The Irony of American History. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1952.


Happy Fiftieth Anniversary: Pell Grant and Title IX