Staying Home to Go to College
Community colleges make the grade for Valley students looking to save a little cash and prepare for their careers — without sacrificing the A-plus education
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Jewel in the crown: The Frank Gehry-designed Fisher Center for the Performing Arts at Bard College
By: Evan Sparling
Bard College President Leon Botstein is the music director of both the American and Jerusalem Symphony Orchestras. So it’s no surprise that the arts rule at Bard, where the stunning 900-seat Fisher Center theater and concert hall continues to provide an ideal venue for performances by both students and internationally recognized artists. English and literature are also very popular majors. But according to Communications Director Mark Primoff, recent years “have seen a broadening of the demographic at Bard,” with an increasing number of students graduating with degrees in the physical and social sciences.
Still, Bard — commonly regarded as one of the top liberal arts schools in the country — retains its status as a liberal bastion of highly intellectual (and sometimes eccentric) students. There are no frats or sororities on campus, and sports don’t play much of a part in the college experience. The 1,700 undergraduates are more likely to be involved in passionate discussions, putting on performances, or going out to hear the latest music.
But Bard does encourage interdisciplinary study through several innovative programs such as the New Orleans Initiative, a student-led project that works with New Orleans communities to design neighborhood-level revitalization models; and the West Point-Bard Exchange, in which students from both institutions attend a seminar class on foreign relations, visit the other campus, and present final research projects to professors from both colleges. And Primoff stresses that even conservatory students are expected to participate in a dual-degree program, so they graduate with one degree in music and another in a chosen discipline “that can be history, or chemistry.” In addition to its traditional academic program, Bard recently added a new program in Kyrgyzstan to its already long list of study-abroad options. And school officials announced the expansion of its “Public High School–Early College” program, through which Bard “adopts” a New York City high school and designs a curriculum that allows graduates to receive both a high school diploma and an associate’s degree in four years. Bard “wants to be a school that has an impact outside its borders,” says Primoff, “and last year we were very busy.”
30 Campus Rd., Annandale-on-Hudson. 845-758-6822; www.bard.edu
Up next: Culinary Institute of America