One day last week, Stanley Gabor joined recently retired university vice president Ross Jones for lunch. In past meetings, the conversation would have covered a range of issues involving university trustees, central administration and the School of Continuing Studies, of which Gabor has been dean for the past 17 years. At this lunch, however, the talk lingered over reminiscences--and future prospects.
On Oct. 12, Gabor, Hopkins' senior dean, announced his retirement. He will leave the school Sept. 1, 1999. With Jones, he was looking forward to getting a jump start on strolling down memory lane--and a new future. And why not? Gabor says he has had an absolutely marvelous time serving the school and Johns Hopkins.
"As much as we have grown and expanded, what's changed so much in the past 16 years is that, I think, the school has shown the university the value, purpose and significance of lifelong learning," Gabor says. "We've demonstrated that part-time faculty can be professional and resourceful, that off-campus centers can effectively deliver a quality education, and that part-time students are motivated and demanding."
Today, more than half of all students at Hopkins are part-time, and two-thirds of all master's degrees conferred are for part-time students in all divisions.
"Many people don't realize that Continuing Studies is one of the oldest divisions of the university," says university provost Steven Knapp. "Stanley Gabor has built on that tradition in a way that has made his the foremost school of continuing studies in the nation. Many of his alumni have become Maryland leaders, and his programs targeting underrepresented minorities have become a national model. In short, Stanley has served the university and his school with extraordinary skill, energy and creativity."
"One thing I'm proud of is the significant role we have played in downtown Baltimore," Gabor says, "as well as our part supporting substantial university efforts in Montgomery County and, most of all, leading Hopkins to Washington, where I think the future is greatest for part-time programs of many divisions."
These campuses, and the one in Columbia, have built on the school's record of accomplishment in its various divisions, such as education, which is highly regarded nationally for its programs in teacher education reform, special education, and counseling and human services. Built on the belief that preparing and supporting excellent school personnel is the cornerstone of quality schools, this graduate program provides innovative, research-driven alternatives for the initial preparation and the continuing development of teachers, administrators, special educators, and school and community counselors. Its director and other senior faculty continue to lend their voice to the ongoing regional and national debates on reforms in teacher education and special education.
The school's Division of Business and Management has grown significantly in the past 15 years. Besides conferring a master of science in business degree (soon to become an MBA), it offers specialized master's degrees in marketing, information systems, real estate, and organization development and human resources. In the past four years, students from the division placed first or second in the National Black MBA Case Competition, besting such schools as Harvard, MIT, Stanford and Duke.
He has also crafted partnerships with outside agencies and institutions. For example, in 1992 Gabor created the Police Executive Leadership Program, which works with the Baltimore region's police, U.S. Department of Justice and Secret Service. (The program recently won a regional award.) He has been instrumental in developing with other university divisions successful certificate programs, notably the Business of Nursing and the Business of Medicine, the latter further evolving into a unique distance education program offered in partnership with the Sylvan/Caliber Learning Center.
Gabor is especially pleased with the establishment two years ago of a new Division of Undergraduate Programs, with emphasis on business programs and interdisciplinary studies. "This unit will provide access and opportunity for the region's best adult, part-time students who wish to avail themselves of the Hopkins advantage--a terrific community outreach."
The opportunity of such a variety of innovations runs counter to what Gabor expected upon his arrival from New York University, where he had been the associate dean of Continuing Education.
"When I accepted this deanship, people warned me that Hopkins was a traditional, staid, conservative university," Gabor says. "But nothing is farther from the truth. Hopkins is a creative, competitive, dynamic environment."
That has been Gabor's source of pride--and frustration.
"You know, at Hopkins there's such an abundance of opportunity to develop successful programs," he says. "When people ask, Who's the competition? I tell them, the competition is yourself. Hopkins will bring out the creativity in you, or you will quickly learn your limits. I must say that it has been a special privilege to work in this environment."
Actually, that is one of the things Gabor will miss the most.
"This is such a wonderful academic culture," he says. "The campus, the students, the faculty. I've been blessed with a terrific staff and colleagues in [the central administration], who, over the years, have been so supportive and encouraging."
And, he says, he'll likely miss the opportunities and challenges that lay ahead for his successor, who will be selected following a national search.
"As a continuing education enterprise, we've pretty much fulfilled our role in business and education," he says. "The challenge will be to bring these to new levels of achievement through the concept of post-baccalaureate lifelong learning. I think this school--especially with a name change--could be a national model for continuous learning for alumni and others, who either want to advance their careers or enhance their minds. The Hopkins name, if you will, means excellence in education and will become even more international through part-time programs. This, I think, is where education is headed in the 21st century, especially with advanced technology for distance learning in which we are already involved."
Gabor says there also will be more opportunities for developing partnerships with school systems, the corporate world, colleges and universities, non-profit organizations and government agencies.
While Gabor may have some regrets about not having a front-row seat at the school for the next millennium, he says his work is by no means complete.
"I still have 11 months to go," he laughs. "There are projects in the works, there are new ideas on the table. We're planning for our 90th anniversary this coming spring. The pace here never lets up. So there'll never come a time when I--or any dean--can say, This and that are finished; it's time to move on.'
"You know, you never think this day is going to come, but it's the time in my life to devote to my family, my grandchildren and other interests both personal and professional. It's been a rich and rewarding experience. And that's how it should be."