About Ernest L. Boyer
Ernest L. Boyer, Sr.
A Leader of Educators, An Educator of Leaders
1928 - 1995
He carefully and persuasively explained to the nation that education requires sustained attention to the individual child and adolescent, and maintained that society has a moral obligation to make sure every student gets that kind of attention. With assistance from the Atlantic Richfield Corporation, The Carnegie Foundation then funded 225 high school projects across the nation to stimulate real school reform.
In his next study, College: The Undergraduate Experience in America, published in 1987 by Harper & Row, Ernest Boyer again put one of the nation's institutions under his critical yet caring gaze. He found far too many college students shortchanged by the faculty's obligation to conduct research over teaching. He contended that the nation must put more resources into undergraduate education, expand orientation and faculty mentoring for new students, and create community service programs for students. The Christian Science Monitor called it "the most thorough look at undergraduate colleges ever taken."
In the report, Boyer pointed out: "The undergraduate experience, at its best, also means encouraging students to be active rather than passive learners. In measuring the quality of a college one should ask if the institution has a climate that encourages independent, self-directed study. Is priority given to the required lower-division classes? Is teaching more than lecturing? Do general education courses have small discussion sessions in which students work together on group assignments? Are undergraduate courses taught by the most respected and gifted teachers on campus? Because much learning occurs outside the classroom, it is important to know how accessible faculty are to their students, through office hours, to be sure, but also elsewhere on the campus."
Boyer also connected the world of learning in the classroom to the world outside. In both High School and College, he argued that students needed to be engaged in community service. This idea was promulgated throughout schools and communities and in some states such as Maryland, legislation was introduced to promote student service.
In its 1990 "The Best of America" citations, U.S. News & World Report gave Ernest Boyer its "Excellence Award in Education," calling him "a major force in education reform." The magazine explained that "his reports High School and College have helped to bring back the core curriculum, upgrade the teaching profession, and reinforce the importance of schools as seedbeds of democratic ideals. These are among the reasons more than 400 education experts we surveyed singled out Boyer for excellence."