By: Karen Bacon  | 

What is Stern College All About?

Editor’s Note: The following is based on a speech the Mordecai D. Katz and Dr. Monique C. Katz Dean of the Undergraduate Faculty of Arts and Sciences Karen Bacon gave at the Stern College for Women Open House on Sunday, November 12.

With your indulgence, I would like to share a few thoughts about a college education generally and how Stern College fits into this picture.

So, what is college supposed to be about? A transition period from adolescence to adulthood? An opportunity to develop an appreciation for disparate ideas at a sophisticated level? The gift of creating a community of lifelong friends? The acquisition of skills necessary to be a contributing member of society? I think all of this, and so much more, was, and should still be true. But if there is a common denominator to all of this, it is that a college education should be about building, not destroying; about dissecting problems to find solutions, and not about demeaning and demonizing. The college experience should be about asking big questions about life: the role of family, the importance of justice, the nature of work, the lessons of history. It should be about helping students face the challenges of the future: poverty, technology, the environment. College should be about looking outward and inward, confronting our limitations, recognizing our opportunities, guided by the wisdom of the past, the values of our community, and inspired by the models of faculty who embrace these goals. It is on this basis that Stern College, a proud member of the Yeshiva University family, stands. 

Guided by our biblical values, our students learn about themselves and about the world, in an environment that encourages exploration, not uniformity; that values the voice of the individual and the belief that there are ways to discuss differences of opinion with civility. Stern College is about looking to the future with optimism. Stern College is about building.

How do we do this? Of course, we do this through a dual curriculum and the engagement with sacred texts. We do this by emphasizing that writing well and speaking with authority is the result of prior careful analysis. We do this through courses in political science and psychology, philosophy and history, biology and physics, English and computer science, and the list goes on. The Stern College woman is not narrow in her education. She has breadth and depth, and as a result she can speak with confidence based on competence. 

More than ever, we need leaders who can speak out about things that matter. The SCW education does that: It speaks to things that matter. And, at the end of the day, our graduates move out into the world, religiously inspired and committed, and prepared for greater and greater success. Whether they become physicians or nurses, lawyers or educators, psychologists or social workers, speech therapists or computer scientists, engineers or journalists, media specialists or executives in the nonprofit world. All of them are inspired mothers, professionals and lay leaders. 

If this model speaks to you — the model of an exciting Torah-based education that encourages breadth, engagement, optimism, openness and career development — Stern College is for you, and no other place makes sense. 

I end with the words from a popular song that I believe encapsulates the decision you are asked to make. The words are from the song “From Now On:”

“For years and years, I chased their cheers; the crazy speed of always needing more. 

But when I stop and see you here, I remember who all this was for. 

And from now on, these eyes will not be blinded by the lights. 

And from now on, we will come back home. Home, again!

And we will come back home. Home, again! From now on!”

Am Yisroel Chai!


Photo Caption: The education at Stern College for Women speaks to what matters, says Dean Bacon

Photo Credit: Yeshiva University