National Advisory Committee

Annual Report 1998 Table of Contents | Brochures and Reports

A National Advisory Committee, composed of Americans distinguished in the fields of education, private philanthropy, and public policy, assists the Teachers Institute with the dissemination, evaluation, and development of both the program in New Haven and the National Demonstration Project. New members are invited to serve, from time to time, by the President of Yale University. In 1998 two people accepted membership on the Committee: Owen M. López, Executive Director, McCune Charitable Foundation; and Ilene Mack, Senior Program Officer, William Randolph Hearst Foundation. In advance of National Advisory Committee meetings, members of the University Advisory Council and the Steering Committee meet separately and together to discuss program development and evaluation, national dissemination, and finance. On each of these and any other timely topics they prepare papers that are circulated to brief the Committee before the meetings. 

As the Teachers Institute plays a leading role in the national movement for university-school partnerships the National Advisory Committee assists in determining how to make the most effective contribution to institutions and schools in other communities. The Committee provides a variety of perspectives that aid in examining what each constituency for such partnerships would regard as the best evidence of their effectiveness. 

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National Advisory Committee meeting. (Clockwise from left: Richard Ekman, Gordon M. Ambach, Sabatino Sofia, Glegg L. Watson, I. Michael Heyman, Sequella H. Coleman, Rev. Frederick J. Streets, Jean E. Sutherland, Thomas R. Whitaker, Mary Miller, Peter N. Herndon, Bonnie B. Himmelman, David Warren, Jules D. Prown, James R. Vivian, Reginald R. Mayo, and Carla Asher.) 

The Committee met on March 6, 1998. The agenda for the day was designed to seek the Committee’s advice in two areas: 

1. The Institute’s new ways of working in New Haven schools: specifically, teams of Fellows from individual schools, electronic resources and assistance, Centers for Professional and Curricular development in certain schools, and summer Academies. 

2. The national project that had been designed to demonstrate that the approach the Institute has taken for twenty years in New Haven can be adapted to establish similar university-school partnerships under different circumstances in other cities. 

Jules D. Prown, Co-Chairman of the University Advisory Council, welcomed those in attendance. James R. Vivian, Director of the Institute introduced the members who had joined the Committee since its last meeting on May 6, 1996: I. Michael Heyman, Secretary, The Smithsonian Institution; Bonnie B. Himmelman, President, Sherman Fairchild Foundation, Inc., and David L. Warren, President, National Association of Independent Colleges and Universities. He then gave an overview of the meeting and the Director’s Report, which summarized developments during 1997 in the local program and in the planning for a National Demonstration Project. 

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University Advisory Council meeting. (From left: Richard Ekman, Gordon M. Ambach, Sabatino Sofia, Glegg L. Watson, and I. Michael Heyman.) 

A variety of New Haven participants then spoke on the local program. They included Reginald Mayo, Superintendent of the New Haven Public Schools; Frederick J. Streets, University Chaplain (on his 1997 seminar); Sandra Ferdman Comas, Assistant Professor of Spanish and Portuguese (on her 1997 seminar); Jean Sutherland, Third-grade Teacher, L. W. Beecher Elementary School (on teams of Fellows in seminars); Edward Baker, Institute Center Liaison (on electronic resources); Annette Streets, Institute Center Liaison (on Academy); Alan Frishman, Magnet Resource Teacher, Career High School (on its Institute Center and the mini-grant for training in diversity); Sequella Coleman (on the new Institute Center at Fair Haven Middle School); and Patricia Lydon, Liaison (on documentation of Center activity in 1997). During the discussion that followed, members of the Committee urged especially that the Institute further document its efforts, collecting data on how the web site is used, providing a case study of a seminar, and describing how the curriculum units relate to the district standards. A number of the Committee members expressed appreciation at having these full reports on the Institute’s recent developments. 

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Reginald R. Mayo at the National Advisory Committee meeting. 

Thomas R. Whitaker then offered an overview of the national dissemination in which the Institute had been engaged, including the periodical, On Common Ground, the preparation of a second videotape program, “Excellence in Teaching,” and the planning for the National Demonstration Project. Brief comments on the planning process and site visits during 1997 were then offered by several members of the Planning Team: Sabatino Sofia, Professor and Chairman of Astronomy and Co-Chairman of the University Advisory Council; Cynthia Russett, Professor of History; and Peter Herndon, History Teacher, Cooperative Arts and Humanities High School. The discussion that followed was in response to several questions posed by Director Vivian: How do we ensure that the local program will not suffer during the National Demonstration Project? What are the most important considerations in awarding grants? What should we document? How should we disseminate the results? What should we learn from in New Haven? Members of the Committee urged that the process be risk-averse because it is already inherently risky, that it keep the focus on the direct relations between university faculty members and teachers, and that it might reach out to include yet other partners. 

In an afternoon summary of the Committee’s morning discussion, Gordon M. Ambach, Executive Director, Council of Chief State School Officers, urged that the Institute “stay the course,” not diverting its attention from the existing program, that it consider how Yale might help to build the computer capacity of the schools, that it investigate the possibility of corporate assistance in the area of technology, and that it provide careful documentation of the curriculum units and the experience in using them. With respect to the National Demonstration Project, he urged the careful definition of criteria for selection of sites, a sharpening of the purposes of the demonstration, and a determination of the impact that should be achieved. 

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National Advisory Committee meeting. (From left: Peter N. Herndon and Bonnie B. Himmelman.) 

A discussion with President Richard C. Levin focused on a number of concerns: that the relation of demonstration sites to Schools of Education should be carefully monitored, that school systems need stability in order to benefit from a demonstration, that larger systems might well start with a smaller cluster of schools, and that a presidential conversation among a number of institutions might provide a litmus test for the viability of demonstration sites.


The National Advisory Committee assists in determining how to make the most effective contribution to institutions and schools in other communities. 

The Committee met to discuss the Institute’s new ways of working in New Haven schools and the National Project. 


Members of the Committee urged that the process keep the focus on the direct relations between university faculty members and teachers. 

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