From the Vineyard Gazette editions of August, 1970:
A writer’s retreat, a think tank, a junior college, an experimental division of the University of Massachusetts, a vocational school, a microcosm for study of the environment, a structured college — all were among proposals made Wednesday for a new kind of institution of higher education on the Vineyard.
The suggestions came at a meeting of 11 Islanders and summer residents impressed with the unique campus aspect of the Vineyard and with the outstanding educators who retire or visit here. Calling itself the Higher Education Committee, the group — an outgrowth of efforts last spring to establish a campus of Maine’s Nasson College here — met at the Lambert’s Cove Inn to joggle about ideas on what a new school might give to the Island, and what the Island might have to offer to such a school.
The rare solitude that the Vineyard could supply for a small colony of artists, writers or scholars was lauded by Robert Heilbroner, a professor of economics at New York’s New School of Social Research.
“I don’t think that this is the right environment for a bunch of kids to sow their wild oats,” Mr. Heilbroner said. “A bunch of 500 college kids ‘doing their thing’ would result in a counter-reaction from the community, but a lot of people up-Island would like to put the quietude that is there to use in a kind of retreat like the Yaddo Center for writers in Saratoga Springs, or as a think tank for 50 scholars and their wives.”
A vocational school seemed a considerably more pressing need to Lawrence N. Spitz of the United Mine Workers Union. A combination school, offering both vocational work and abstract studies, appealed to Lincoln F. Hanson of Rockland Community College in Rockland County, N.Y.
“On this Island you find the most wonderful combination of intellectual qualifications and mechanical skills,” Mr. Hanson said, and urged that both, simultaneously, be fostered. “There could be something that would both supplement the public schools and provide discussion opportunities for people of all ages. I think you could set up an experimental division of the University of Massachusetts,” he continued.
Robert Thomason, former headmaster of the Horace Mann School in Riverdale, N.Y., passed on the reaction of a scholar and writer who had declined to attend the higher education session because he is opposed to anything that would promote the further growth and development of the Island and destroy the peace the Vineyard now offers.
Miss Evie Bolleton, a teacher of diction at Philip Burton’s acting school in New York, proposed a summer institute — perhaps a theatrical one — that would not destroy, but would give to the Island culture with theatrical productions.
The development of an apprenticeship program for aspiring craftsmen and workmen was suggested.
Judge Joseph S. Mitchell Jr. of the Massachusetts Superior Court brought the discussion back to the idea of an unstructured community college “where you can go nights, whenever you want to. In Roxbury they’re now setting one up,” he said, “and on the Cape, too. These things can be done with state funds. Do you have enough community need to sell the state on such an idea?”
Richard J. McCarron, an Edgartown lawyer, contributed that, in the past, the need for such an institution has been questioned because of a strong feeling that Island young people should have an off-Island experience.
Mrs. Robert Simon, freelance journalist, wanted to know if using the Vineyard as a location to “train minds to cope with the destruction of the environment” that is imminent might not present an interesting educational experiment. “This could be treated as a microcosm of the world and land planning could be studied here,” she said.
Dr. Milton Mazer’s proposal was for development of a sabbatical center on the Island “to make this a more exciting place to live, and, more important, to make the educational system that already exists here more exciting.”
“Before you’re going to get an exciting educational institution,” Charles Davis, principal of the regional high school, responded, “you’ve got to provide something for that kid who doesn’t go on after high school or to a two or four year school who’s going to make his living here. These are the people we should care for.”
The meeting ended with the suggestion that there be more of its kind to come, and that at the next gathering, young people, too, be invited to participate, since the subject above all, concerns them.
--Compiled by Alison L. Mead