SANTA BARBARA, CA, MARCH 3, 2014: Fielding Graduate University was founded in March 1974 in Santa Barbara, California. It is the realization of the vision of three founders: Frederic Hudson, Hallock Hoffman, and Renata Tesch. The founders, all distinguished higher education administrators and educators, in their respective capacities as president, executive vice-president, and dean of education, each contributed an essential ingredient to the establishment of the university. Many other key individuals, through their diligence, hard work, and firm belief in the national need for mid-career professional education, gave substance to the dream.
The founders envisioned a nationally recognized graduate school, which would serve mid-career professionals who wanted to pursue an advanced degree but whose educational and professional objectives could not be met by traditional institutions of higher education. The founders succeeded in their mission. Their success was predicated on two basic, but at the time, rather advanced notions. First, they recognized that changing demographics were altering the nature of society, particularly the world of higher education.
More often than not, the founders speculated, students seeking advanced degrees would be mid-career adults who wanted to enhance their established academic and professional skills; who, in many cases, would be committed to effecting a mid-life career change; and all of whom, by the nature of their quest for a quality graduate education at mid-life, would be interested in being part of a lifelong learning community.
Second, the founders realized that adults learn new tasks and accrue knowledge in ways that differ significantly from those of adolescents and young adults. The traditional pedagogical method of education – active teacher, passive learner – would not be appropriate to this new experiment in adult professional education. To accommodate and capitalize upon the learning styles of its student, Fielding developed a rigorous, supportive learning model that today remains flexible, adult-centered, self-directed, task-oriented, and competence-based.
In the Fielding archives, an original document written by founder Frederic Hudson outlines the beginning of Fielding’s history. Here are some excerpts from that document:
History and Background of The Fielding Institute
Fielding was founded in March 1974, as a graduate school in education and psychology designed to serve the educational interests of professional persons in mid-career. Fielding is new, small, and specialized. We chose two fields in which neither buildings nor equipment are especially important, in which our fascination with human beings and their learning, feeling and knowing could be the focus of our attention. We made our programs “external”—not to be carried on in our environment, but to be accomplished by our Students in connection with their own lives and work, in their own surroundings.
Fielding serves a distinct population: mature professional persons in mid-career. We aim to assist intelligent, competent adults to attain goals of their own, and to measure their achievements by their own increases in competence and knowledge.
Frederic Hudson and Hallock Hoffman first met on a committee established by the Western College Association to advise a study on the meaning of baccalaureate degrees. Subsequently, Frederic Hudson became associated with Laurence University, an external graduate program school. Dr. Hudson, asked Hallock Hoffman and Renata Tesch to join him as faculty members…Resigning from Laurence, we set up Fielding, in part to satisfy our desires to create a program of which we could be proud, and in part to fulfill our responsibilities to a group of students who had been studying with us at Laurence and who were in danger of being stranded by our departure.
The Institute was organized as a non-profit educational corporation in California in March, 1974. We obtained state and federal tax exemption shortly thereafter. We raised the necessary capital and completed the requirements for (a)(3)recognition under the then California education code in July, 1974. Since licensing is important for many of our psychology Students, we applied for and were successful in obtaining (a)(2) Approved status under the State Board of Education in July, 1975…
Our first students were enrolled in the education program…the master of arts program had its first admission in the summer of 1974. The psychology program enrolled its first students in the fall of 1974. The MA Plan 3 Program, a program to prepare enrollees for admission to the psychology doctoral program, was initiated in 1976.
We did not raise any sizable amount of money in connection with founding Fielding. From the beginning we have believed that the Institute should support itself from current tuition income. The capitalization necessary for (a)(3) recognition was developed through a generous gift of educational films from the Encyclopedia Britannica Educational Corporation. The founding officers drew no salaries for the first several months and only partial salaries for the following year…
The financial success of Fielding is thus a function of its ability to serve its students; and that equation is one we wish to preserve. We think it is healthy for us to be delivering educational services in exchange for payment; we do not want capital or endowment that would enable us to shift our primary attention away from services to students.
To read more about the history of Fielding through the stories of faculty and alumni, click here to view the special edition of FOCUS Magazine: Fielding Graduate University Special Edition: FOCUS Magazine
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