Dispatch 63: 2018 Commencement Speaker Announcement


We are thrilled to announce that Dr. Patricia Breen, President of Pacific Oaks College and Children's School, has been selected as Saybrook University's 2018 commencement speaker. 

Patricia A. Breen, Ph.D., brings more than 30 years of experience in higher education administration to her role as President of Pacific Oaks College & Children’s School. Dr. Breen’s academic and operational expertise spans a variety of roles from librarian to president, diverse higher education environments from the single campus structure to the multi-campus education system, and from the comprehensive university model to the specialized professional school.

Dr. Breen received her Ph.D. in Human and Organizational Development from Fielding Graduate University. She also holds an undergraduate degree in English Literature and master’s degree in Library Science from the University of Texas, and an MBA from DePaul University. Her interests include assessment of and improvement in student learning, adults as learners, and higher education leadership. Dr. Breen is active in the Council for Graduate Schools and has been a Consultant-Evaluator for the Higher Learning Commission of the North Central Association of Schools and Colleges and for the WASC Senior College and University Commission (WSCUC) for many years.

Born in Coronado, Calif., Dr. Breen and her husband have been residents of Pasadena since 2013. Her daughter lives in Minneapolis with her husband and her son lives in Chicago with his wife.

Dispatch 61: The Technological Revolution - A Case for Rapid Innovation at Saybrook U?

Over the last few weeks, our university trustees and I have been laying the groundwork for our next strategic planning process, charting out potential key strategic themes. We found ourselves focused on technology in a big way, so much so that the Board seemed unanimous in agreement that Saybrook University has a big part to play in this area. Questions emerged including: how do we address the role of technology in the virtual classroom that maximizes student learning? How much focus do we need to place on the role of technology and the human experience, including artificial intelligence and virtual reality? 

Many institutions of higher learning, businesses, government, K-12 education, etc., have been slow to recognize the stark reality that, like the industrial revolutions of the late 18th and early 20th centuries, the role of technology is going to be a massive force for change resulting in a complete realignment of jobs and services over the next 20-25 years.

What do innovations like AlexaSophia (see the video above and refer to the National Geographic article here), the emerging blockchain technology, and virtual reality mean for how we deliver education? How do these and myriad other innovations impact the human experience? What should Saybrook University's response be to this seismic shift occurring in our country and around the globe? Most importantly, how can our community of scholar-practitioners prepare our students for a future that looks incredibly different than present-day reality? 

What say you?

Dispatch 58: Message to Saybrook U Hawaii Students

Dear Saybrook U Students: 

We have several of you who may have been impacted by the recent volcanic activity on the island. Our Dean of Students, Alexis Lewis, recently reached out to all of you, checking in on your well-being.

If we can be of support to you, please don't hesitate to reach out in whatever manner is easiest (text, email, social media, etc.). Be well, be safe, and please know that your Saybrook family is with you in spirit. 

Dispatch 57: Blockchain Explained? Can We Apply It To Saybrook U?

A couple of weeks ago, our Chief Information Officer presented a session on blockchain technology using this video as a springboard for discussion. This is cutting-edge technology that will likely change the face of how human beings interface with technology.

Universities around the world have an opportunity to get in front of blockchain and its usage as do those studying across a wide array of disciplines to advance how technology is used to positively advance the human condition. 

If you think this doesn't apply to Saybrook University degree programs like integrative medicine, psychology, integrative and functional nutrition, counseling, or other disciplines - think again! What do you believe are some ways our university can leverage blockchain technology across disciplines and in student support services? How might we consider advancing this technology in ways that improve the human condition?


Dispatch 55: Opportunities for Saybrook U Students in South Africa

Thank you, Dr. Willmarth, for posting this video featuring Grant Edkins of South Africa (Relationship Manager at Ethembeni HIV), who offers up insights into the types of students/alums his organization is looking for in their work to advance positive social change. 

(That hat is quite excellent!)


Dispatch 54: Saybrook Transformative Social Change Faculty Statement on Gun Violence

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Our Saybrook University Transformative Social Change faculty released the following statement on gun violence last week on the 50th anniversary of the assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

Statement on Gun Violence in the United States
Transformative Social Change Department Faculty
Saybrook University

“Fight for your lives, before it's someone else's job."—Emma Gonzalez, Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School Student

The faculty of the Department of Transformative Social Change at Saybrook University believes that it is our role as scholar-activists to share with the Saybrook community, and beyond, our views on the context of contemporary events. Reactions to school shootings have illustrated the admirable energy of young people to take nonviolent action to provide greater safety from gun violence.

We wish to congratulate the students at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, who originated the March For Our Lives movement, and all those who participated in the March on March 24, 2018, including many of our own students. They are truly transformative social change agents, in that they have re-framed the specific problem they are addressing in its larger societal context, creating a potential paradigm shift in public thinking about the issue.

These students adhered to nonviolent methods. They presented their case forcefully to school officials, media outlets, and legislators. While the precipitating incident occurred in a predominantly white upper-middle-class school, the marchers quickly became a broad coalition, including minorities who have been disproportionately affected by gun violence. They have given us reason to hope for the future of our nation. We applaud their remarkable wisdom and leadership in moving toward a less violent world.

As a group of faculty long committed to this goal, we offer the following perspectives:

1. Gun violence occurs not only in mass shootings, but as a daily occurrence of domestic abuse in home settings and in the overuse of lethal force by law officials. Its victims have been overrepresented among persons of color.

2. The availability of guns for individuals below 21 years of age increases the likely use of such weapons.

3. The availability of military-style automatic weapons makes mass killings more likely.

4. Restrictions on the availability of lethal weapons are endorsed by all factions of the public, including gun owners. The opposition is clearly led by gun manufacturers who exert inordinate influence upon legislators.

5. Proposals to address gun violence by arming teachers do not make sense. Individuals already committed to engage in a mass shooting expect that they themselves will be killed as a result and would not be deterred by more guns on campus.

6. The skills needed to de-escalate conflicts through dialogue, discourse dialectics, and the extensive tools for nonviolent conflict resolution are powerful but are not widely taught.

7. The hand behind the trigger is but one part of the cause of gun violence. The requisites for providing healthy cultures and communities are often lacking. People feeling displaced, demeaned and discarded are potential risks for behavior destructive to themselves and others, as are people who have experienced severe trauma. This includes both soldiers and non-combatant victims of war.

8. Too many soldiers are returning from combat tours with PTSD and TBI (Traumatic Brain Injury). In many cases, they are returning from wars that should never have been waged and they are receiving inadequate help to recover.

9. A culture of violence needs to be addressed. The model of scapegoating adversaries, threatening them with force, and abetting wars to kill them, is not consistent with practices of restorative justice, of listening to diverse voices, empowering creative solutions to dangerous conditions, and of building a caring social order.

10. In addition to focused political action, addressing gun violence involves a strategy that includes creation of a culture of self-care and community-care, such as suggested in Family-Care, Community-Care and Self-Care Tool Kit: Healing in the Face of Cultural Trauma, by the Association of Black Psychologists--of which TSC faculty member Dr. Theopia Jackson is the incoming President--and the Community Healing Network.

On this 50th anniversary of the assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., we renew our commitment to teaching alternatives to violence and pledge our support for the new generational movement to address gun violence and advocate for a just social order, free from fears of preventable human violence.

Dispatch 53: In Memoriam - Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

Fifty years ago today we lost a human being who represented our better angels, who demanded that all Americans live up to the values enshrined in the U.S. Constitution, who promoted the use of non-violent action to build awareness and action. 

The video clip presented here is an abbreviated version of Dr. King's "Letter from a Birmingham Jail". I urge you to view it, to really hear it, and to reflect on the life not only of Dr. King but of the countless individuals who have given their lives to advance the cause of civil rights in these United States of America. In your reflection, consider thinking about how you are advancing the work of creating a more just, humane, and sustainable world. 


Dispatch 52: Saybrook Alumni Meet-Up in Chicago!

Saybrook University is the lead sponsor for DOC10 2018 in Chicago, and we will be hosting an alumni meet-up event on Saturday, April 7th in conjunction with this year’s film festival. This is a great opportunity for intellectual and social enrichment with your fellow alums, and we hope to see you there.

All alumni are welcome to join, although space is limited!

RSVP to Anthony Molinar at amolinar@saybrook.edu by Tuesday, 3/27.

Event Details:

Again, if you’re available and interested in joining us, email Anthony Molinar at amolinar@saybrook.edu as soon as you can!

Dispatch 51: Saybrook University Launches M.S. in Psychophysiology

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Advancing Healthcare for the 21st Century Just Got Smarter...Saybrook University is pleased to announce the launch of its new master's degree in Psychophysiology.

More about the degree: The continued evolution of health care has increased awareness around ways in which people can learn to help themselves. The field of psychophysiology is a prime example of this, using behavioral assessments and interventions to assist people in identifying problems caused by biological underpinnings they may not recognize. To learn more, go here: https://www.saybrook.edu/areas-of-study/psychophysiology/ms-in-psychophysiology/

Dispatch 50: TCS Education System Colleges Meet in Austria

We are off to the races in Krems, Austria, where Saybrook University, The Chicago School of Professional Psychology, and IMC University students have convened for several days of intellectual engagement and fellowship. Saybrook University Provost, Dr. Carol Humphreys is on the ground and took these great photos! Today's discussions are focused on creating, leading, and managing a collaborative global workforce. 

Our deepest gratitude to our IMC University partner for hosting this outstanding event bringing students and faculty together in global engagement!

Dispatch 49: In Memoriam - Dr. Don Polkinghorne, First President of Saybrook U (Institute)


We recently learned of Don's passing and I felt it only fitting that we place a tribute on my blog to this outstanding scholar and academic administrator. In addition to a full scholarly career, Don served as Saybrook's first official president beginning in the mid-1970s through 1986. He was also responsible for leading us to our first successful bid for accreditation in 1984.

Don leaves a lasting legacy across many institutions. Our condolences to his family, friends, and academic colleagues.

Please take a moment to read the very lovely tribute written by his widow, Dr. Judith Blanton, below. 


Donald Polkinghorne: November 8, 1936-January 17, 2018

It is with great sadness that we announce the passing of Professor Donald Polkinghorne, the Fahmy Attallah and Donna Attallah Chair in Humanistic Psychology and Emeritus Professor at the Rossier School of Education at the University of Southern California.  Professor Polkinghorne led a long and distinguished academic career.  He published groundbreaking books, including Narrative Knowing and the Human Sciences, Methodology for the Human Sciences, and Practice and the Human Sciences.  He also published numerous articles on the relationship between qualitative methods and contemporary philosophy. As a humanistic psychologist, Professor Polkinghorne focused on the uniqueness of individuals in the way they experienced and lived their own lives.  He was concerned that psychological studies did not include areas such as the experiences of personal agency and responsibility.  Along with other humanistic psychologists, Professor Polkinghorne believed that psychology should not only attend to pathologies, but to the human possibilities of creativity, growth, fulfillment and healthy personalities.

Don taught his students and colleagues to approach research as human science, rather than apply scientific methods of research to understand human problems that have individual and non-replicable characteristics.  He held that the notion of best practices that work equally well for all who receive it assumes a similarity and consistency that does not exist across people.  In contrast to the best practice movement, Don’s work held that individual practitioners are the primary source of the solution to human problems. The focus on practitioners as the instrument of change led him to introduce the concept of practitioner judgment and drew on the philosophical traditions of Dewey, Gadamer, Rorty, and Heidegger to explain how practitioners through their engagement in inquiry activities develop new insights and can change their beliefs and practices.  He believed that “The solution of individual human problems depends on the particular helper and the way they relate to the individual.”  From 2000 until his retirement, he affiliated with researchers at the Rossier School of Education’s Center for Urban Education where his concepts of practitioner inquiry and judgment were adapted into tools for critical participatory action research to assist higher education practitioners to assume responsibility for changing their practices to close racial equity gaps.

Professor Polkinghorne’s educational background includes degrees in religious studies from Washington University (St. Louis), Yale University, and Hartford Seminary Foundation. During his academic career, in addition to his appointments as a professor, he held several academic leadership positions including the presidency of Saybrook Institute. Over the course of his career Professor, Polkinghorne received numerous awards, including election to the Presidency of the American Psychology Association’s Division of Theoretical and Philosophical Psychology, election as a Fellow of the American Psychological Association.

Professor Guilbert Hentchke, past dean of Rossier School of Education said of Don, “he was such a wonderful, thoughtful and warm person.  He was for me the epitome of what is best in a university faculty member: fully committed to his work, engaged productively with his colleagues and students, always theory-driven, and a true friend.”

Don was a gentleman and a scholar, as happy reading Husserl’s phenomenology as watching a USC football game and he sometimes did these things simultaneously.   He loved learning and teaching, sports, travel, hamburgers, and Springer Spaniels.  He was a serious athlete in college and is in the Washington University Sports Hall of fame where some of his football records still stand. 

Don will be missed greatly by his wife of 40 years, Dr. Judith Blanton, his daughter, Deborah Nunnick; step-daughter, Shanti Corrigan and brother, Robert Polkinghorne, as well as Winnie his beloved springer spaniel.

A celebration of his life will be held on April 15, 2018.  Please contact his wife, Dr. Judy Blanton for further information or if you would like to write a note of tribute.   For those who have asked about flowers, we would prefer to have donations in his name to the American Diabetes Association

Don’s daughter put together a webpage in Don's memory.  It is posted under Donald Polkinghorne at ForeverMissed.com to which notes and photos may be added.

Some of you may enjoy reading the introduction Don wrote for the book The Paradox of Loss: Toward a Relational Theory of Grief  - available when clicking the preview link for its listing on Amazon.   The book grew out of a dissertation that he supervised at USC.  The writing was for an academic audience but you can also get a sense of his deeply personal thinking about the topic





Dispatch 48: A Team Effort Resulting in an Outstanding Accreditation Visit

We have concluded our reaffirmation for accreditation visit and I believe it’s quite accurate to say that the visit was a true success on many levels. We had outstanding participation and engagement from our entire community including a strong showing from our students (24), to faculty, to staff, to TCS Education System partners. I want to commend Dr. Humphreys, Dr. Nami Kim and their teams on what, in my opinion, was a flawless visit from start to finish. Indeed, Carol and her team delivered on all fronts – from a thorough self-study process, to coordinating the second campus site visit in Bellevue in January, to a well-planned and well-executed three-days+ of meetings, meals, and engagement with our entire community.

We also have our TCS Education System colleagues to thank for supporting us by conducting a mock visit last month, which helped our team home in on how to get logistics just right and get those initial butterflies out of the way! We want to specifically thank our mock visitors President Patricia Breen (Pacific Oaks), Dr. Jack Paduntin (CAO, TCS Education System), Dr. Eileen Heveron (CAO – retired, TCS Education System), and Ted Scholz (Provost, The Chicago School of Professional Psychology).

I want to also sincerely express my deepest gratitude to our trustees for their outstanding representation on Wednesday. Furthermore, our TCS colleagues, including President Horowitz, his direct reports, and all of our various department partners were amazing in their support, their partnership, and their clear commitment to our success. Our entire team felt the positive presence of the various members who stayed several days, demonstrating solidarity. I think it’s worth noting that this past week truly brought to bear that the relationship we have forged with TCS is something truly special and one that will sustain Saybrook University for decades to come. 

We were incredibly pleased by both the commendations and recommendations as they mark a significant evolution in Saybrook’s growth and development. We will disseminate these to the broader community once the report is completed. At the end of June, I will be attending the WSCUC meeting with our leadership team to hear the results in which we will learn whether we receive 6, 8, or 10 years of accreditation. 

Again, my deepest appreciation to each and every one of you - our students, faculty, staff, trustees, and System colleagues - for your support advancing the mission of the university. We are better together and we have definitely come a long way on this incredible journey!

Dispatch 47: South Africa 2018: Identity in Context

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Saybrook University is proud to be partnering with TCS Education System and our sister institutions in what will prove to be an amazing journey this coming December 2018. For our community, especially students and alumni, I encourage you to consider being a part of this life-changing event. Below is the information.

Program Launch: South Africa 2018: Identity in Context


Promoting cross-affiliate collaboration, Colleges of Law, Dallas Nursing Institute, Pacific Oaks College, Saybrook University and The Chicago School of Professional Psychology launch a study abroad course fostering a cross-disciplinary approach to a global issue. An 8-week online course consists of modules approaching the topic of identity from different disciplines – culminating in a 10-day international immersion experience.

Our Topic for 2018 is identity and our destination is South Africa.

  • Why South Africa? With a population of 55 million, South Africa is home to 4 major population groups, with 11 official languages, and many more tribal languages. Now in its 24th year of democracy after the end of Apartheid, with millions of immigrants who have arrived from north of its borders; people are talking about identity and heritage. They talk openly and are proud of their often-mixed heritages.

  • What about the drought in Cape Town? Due to severe drought conditions in Cape Town is experiencing a serious water crisis. The city has implemented a “Day Zero” contingency plan, which means the city plans to cut regular water flow on a projected date. If citizens in the area follow conservation measures, it is possible that “Day Zero” will be altogether avoided. To ensure your health and safety, TCS Education System has implemented a risk assessment plan, which closely monitors and evaluates the status of this current crisis.

  • What is the political climate? There is a new wave of positive energy over the country as President Jacob Zuma resigned on February 15, 2018. Ramaphosa has been sworn in as the new president, with overwhelming popular support.

Logistical Information

  • Course Title: IS600C Identity in Context: Examination of South Africa (3 credits)

  • Program Fee: Students enrolled in course: $2600 USD / all other: $ 3420 USD

  • Participants: eligible students, alumni, and employees upon approval of VP of Global & Campus President

  • Application: Education Beyond Borders Application

  • Travel dates: December 2 – December 11, 2018, in the country: Johannesburg & Cape Town, South Africa

For more information, please go to https://international.tcsedsystem.edu/study-abroad/education-beyond-borders/south-africa/