College Honors a Technology Pioneer
This past spring, more than 150 friends of the College came together at the New York State Museum for Excelsior’s second Partners in Lifelong Learning event. Held in recognition of a Capital Region organization or individual that shares the College’s commitment to continuing education, the event was established in support of scholarships for Albany-area students enrolled at Excelsior. This year almost $60,000 was raised for the Capital Region Student Scholarship Program.
Excelsior President John Ebersole opened the program, introducing the event’s sponsors, honorary committee, and all who made the evening possible. “Our Partners in Lifelong Learning award,” he explained, “recognizes people as well as organizations that share our values and mission. Tonight, we recognize the efforts of an early visionary in education and the use of technology, John Cavalier.”
“Long before there were iPhones and iPads, there was John Cavalier,” said Dr. Alain Kaloyeros, senior vice president and CEO of the College of Nanoscale Science & Engineering at the University at Albany. It was Cavalier’s pioneering work at Apple that advanced the effort to bring computers into classrooms so students could be exposed to the then-emerging world of PCs. He later went on to become chairman and CEO of MapInfo and has served on boards of several other businesses and organizations. Cavalier also chairs the Tech Valley High Foundation, guiding the innovative high school created in 2007 to provide students with the skills necessary to be successful in college and in tomorrow’s workforce.
In accepting the Partners in Lifelong Learning award, Cavalier acknowledged Excelsior’s contribution to using technology to reach students. He cited Excelsior’s philosophy — What you know is more important than where or how you learned it® — as a “wow statement.” He explained,
“Excelsior really understands” that learning can be accessed from various sources. America’s way of teaching and learning, he offered, has not kept pace with technological advancement. For example, today’s top ten “in demand” jobs didn’t even exist in 2004. “All of us need to be involved in the education process in this country,” Cavalier asserted. He was also proud to learn just how well the College serves the U.S. military and the educational goals of servicemembers and their families.
Chris Dede, the Timothy E. Wirth Professor in Learning Technologies at Harvard’s Graduate School of Education, was the guest speaker. The need to prepare students for careers that don’t even exist yet was at the forefront of Dede’s presentation. He postulated that society needs to prepare students for expert decision-making and complex communications: the two skills that are fast becoming the hallmarks of 21st century living and are “more important than the relentless drive toward content that rapidly becomes obsolete.”
Before the reception and silent auction began, President Ebersole concluded with one more reminder of the gift John Cavalier gave to the development and growth of technology as applied to education throughout his long career. “Since 1971,” Ebersole pointed out, “Excelsior has been a leader in educating adult learners from a distance. This college has revolutionized adult education, recognizing learning wherever and whenever it occurs. This is the kind of technology that John championed in the 1980s — technology that helps us deliver education with greater access and lower cost.”