Funded In Part by Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, Bard College to Launch ‘Microcollege,’ Targeting Low-Income Applicants
The maximum-security inmates who beat a Harvard College team in a debate two years ago put a national spotlight on the prisoners’ ambitious college program, the Bard Prison Initiative.
Now Bard College is launching a new satellite in another site that bucks tradition: the Brooklyn Public Library in Prospect Heights.
The “microcollege” will be free for students, and aims to attract talented low-income applicants who haven’t sought degrees due to the pricetag or personal hardships. The experiment aims to find ways to make college possible for people who are often discouraged, excluded or underestimated.
“The way we go about college access in the U.S. is a catastrophic failure,” said Max Kenner, vice president for institutional initiatives at Bard College in Annandale-on-Hudson. “Everyone in higher education has to be more imaginative and daring in thinking outside conventional ideas about how to locate and engage students.”
Mr. Kenner, who also runs the Bard Prison Initiative, said the Brooklyn program was inspired partly by his frustration that so many people were surprised by the intellectual power of prison inmates. “Everyone was amazed,” he said. “We were subject to many jokes in which the punchline is something about a captive audience.”
The new microcollege is modeled on the prison program: Bard faculty will teach small seminars leading to a two-year associates degree in liberal arts, with the hope that students will go on to get bachelors degrees elsewhere...