After teaching at DeVry for a semester, my experience so impressed me that I asked the dean at the Tinley Park campus for an interview to find out more about DeVry and him. What I expected was that I would ask questions as the interviewer and that he would answer them as the interviewee. I spent much of my time being interviewed by him and trying to get the focus back on my set of questions. Ultimately, I wasn't able to control the hour that we shared together, and the result was a very informative exchange of ideas.

Al: Dean, I appreciate your willingness to take time out of your schedule to be interviewed. Last semester, John DeSalvo asked me to teach an introduction to psych and a critical thinking class. I had heard of DeVry for many years, but really didn't know much about it until I taught here last semester. The students and the administrators that I worked with impressed me. I also am impressed by your new facilities-here at Tinley Park. Therefore, I wanted to interview you to find out more about DeVry and its dean.
Dean: Well, let me ask you a few questions. After teaching this past semester and having had experience at the University of St. Francis, what are we doing well or not so well? How would you compare our students with students at St. Francis?

Al: What is really interesting about DeVry is the total diversity of the student body. There is a wonderful student mix here. They come from all racial, ethnic, and age groups. It is a real cross-section of our society. Some of them are the brightest and best and others are trying to get started (or restarted in some cases) academically without the best previous educational background. I can identify with a lot of them; some of them are like me when I was at college. I was a late-bloomer during much of my early academic journey. This past semester was an exciting time for me working with this diverse student body; I really loved it. What intrigues me about DeVry is your ability to teach such a broad spectrum of students.

Dean: DeVry is an attitude school; I can't guarantee that a student will make the Dean's list, but with the right attitude, that student will be able to graduate and better him or her self.

Al: Tell me about your background.

Dean: I've been with DeVry for over eighteen years in positions lodged in student services. Most recently as Dean of Students at DeVry-DuPage and here.

Al: Where did you go to school before coming to DeVry?
Dean: I got my bachelors in Business Administration and Marketing from Rider University in Lawrenceville, NJ and my masters in college/student personnel from Ball State in Muncie, IN.

Al: Then did you come directly to DeVry?
Dean: No, I worked three years for the University of Wisconsin-LaCrosse. While there, I met my wife. When I moved to Chicago to join her, it was then that I joined DeVry; it was in October of '82.

Al: I was surprised to discover that DeVry is actually a corporation and not merely a technical institute. Can you explain DeVry's worldview about their business of educating students?
Dean: DeVry is an education entity that has a tax status that is different from most schools. There are tax-supported schools like the College of DuPage, and there are schools like the University of St. Francis that aren't tax-supported. DeVry's status is for profit.

Al: I was also interested in all the various locations that DeVry has; they are throughout America and in Canada.

Dean: That's correct, there are three locations in Canada and twenty-one here in the States. We are opening a new campus in the Seattle area this summer. In addition, DeVry will soon have one in Northern Virginia, which is just outside of Washington, DC.

Al: When did DeVry's Tinley Park campus open?

Dean: July 2000.

Al: The present enrollment is over 1000. What is the anticipated enrollment?

Dean: Well, there are four or five acres to the east of us that we own. We have plans to expand with a second building on that site. As for the enrollment, it will grow naturally. In time, we could accommodate upwards of three thousand students.

Al: How is a student admitted to DeVry? What must he or she have grade wise, etc?
Dean: Well, we have minimums of ACT scores, but if the student doesn't have those scores or the student never took the ACT, we have a College Placement Test that we give students. We have cut-scores for that also. Some of our students are college-able but not college-ready. So, they take developmental courses to bring up their academic skills.

Al: Another thing that I liked about DeVry is that even though it is a technical school, it has many liberal arts classes. DeVry obviously sees the value of that educational mix.

Dean: That's correct. We have skill sets: critical thinking, communication skills, understanding of literature and art. We want our students to be well rounded. What makes DeVry a little different from some other colleges or universities is that our students take their technology tract along side their general education courses rather than waiting until later.

Al: What are the major areas of study here at DeVry?

Dean: At the baccalaureate level, we offer Computer Information Systems, Electronics Engineering Technology, Telecommunication Management, and Computer Engineering Technology. We also have a bachelors program that is offered on weekends, which is on an accelerated basis. That program is called Information Technology. However, one of the criteria for that program is that you have a prior bachelors degree. This program is designed for students who wish to validate their skills or who are changing their careers to technology. At the associates level, we have one program called Electronics and Computer Technology.

Al: Don't you also have Keller here?
Dean: At the graduate level, Keller has about eight different programs that they offer here. Keller is best known for it MBA programs. In addition, we have the Becker CPA course, which is also a part of the DeVry family. Our present enrollment is over 1000, but if you add these students to the total, we are probably servicing over 1300 learners who are at different stages of their own careers. Some people are getting masters while others are getting their first bachelors degree. We have a nice mix here at Tinley Park.

Al: In addition, all these students represent a real cross-section of society. Some people are just out of high school, and others are older learners. I had a student last semester that was older than I was.

Dean: You're right, many of our students are between 18 and 23, but they are not necessarily the majority population.

Al: Also, it seems that you have two student bodies-daytime and evening students. Many of both groups work at least part-time if not fulltime.

Dean: Did you teach one of our evening psychology classes?

Al: I taught one from 6-9. I'm teaching another evening class next semester and two daytime classes, plus an accelerated class later on this semester that meets on Saturday morning.

Dean: Well, we have classes starting at 7 am and going late into the evening. Every school, except maybe the most prestigious and traditional ones, are offering classes to accommodate their students-even accelerated weekend classes are popular. I just saw a 60-Minutes segment with Dr. Levin who is the president of Columbia Teachers College in New York. He stated that currently of all the people attending college, only 16% are the traditional college student-18 to 23 years old who are going to school fulltime. It is interesting to note that 84% of the market are either older or pursuing a second college experience. We have a great diversity, but I don't think that it is much different from what you are going to find at many schools. We are customer-driven.

Al: That's true at St. Francis' Health Arts program. All my students are working fulltime and going to school in their spare time.
Dean: That's where education is today.

Al: Can you tell me something about where DeVry is headed with online or distance learning? That is how I got to know John DeSalvo, who now heads faculty recruitment for DeVry. While he was at St. Francis, he administered online learning for the Health Arts department. John was the one that got me teaching online.
Dean: In the past six months, we launched our online degree program. You can now achieve a bachelor's degree online. It's not run from the Tinley Park campus, but rather at our administrative center in Oak Brook Terrace. I think right now that it's restricted to just a bachelor degree in Business Administration. Once they get it running well, they will expand it into other areas.

Al: What do you think about online learning as a delivery system?

Dean: For some people, it is the only way that they can achieve an education because of schedules, careers, and where they live.

Al: However, they will miss the campus experience and being in class.

Dean: Yes, but my guess is that all online students have had some experience in a traditional college setting. I just don't think that there are very many people who are online who have never gone to college before.

Al: That's probably very true.
Dean: What has been your experience with online learning?

Al: For a professor who is used to the traditional classroom setting, it does force you to be far more articulate. You are doing everything online, and you also don't have the advantage of seeing agreement or bewilderment in the face of the students after you say something. When you are online, you can't be certain that a student really understood your point. You can't read the student's face, only the student's writing.
Dean: Do you enjoy one or the other?

Al: I would much rather be in the classroom, but I enjoy teaching one online class each semester. The strange thing about online learning is that it's so hi-tech and instantaneous. However, there is a tremendous lag time between what you write and when a student gets back to you. A student can log on hours or even days after you write something to that student. Also, it is funny that a student could be doing an assignment while you're asleep-which is a role reversal. A couple of years ago, I had a student who lived on Guam. Her husband was in the military, and she was finishing her degree program while overseas. She was in class at the strangest times from the perspective of the rest of the class.

Dean: What course was she taking from you?

Al: Religion in America.

Dean: Of all the courses to teach online!

Al: The Religion in America class is a difficult course to teach, because it is the one course that the students think that they know the subject because they have gone to church all their lives. When you teach any other course, the students' mindset is that they aren't experts on the subject. Most of my Religion in America students view themselves as knowing it all and being quite proficient in subject. It takes time to get them acclimated to relearning a great deal of misinformation that they have "learned" over the years. Next semester, I'm trading courses with a colleague-he'll take over the religion course, and I'll take on his philosophy class.
Dean: Technology provides us all with great opportunities for learning in all fields of study.

Al: You're right. For example, on my web site, my students at St. Francis and DeVry can access their syllabi, teaching aides, grades, etc. I'm glad John DeSalvo hired me for online learning several years ago. It forced me to push my educational envelope. In fact, Dean Susan Friedberg, who is in charge of Academic Advancement for DeVry, and I learned online how to teach online. She taught a literature course online for St. Francis. Dean, I would like to find out a little bit about you for my Internet readers.

Dean: Well, I'm married and have four kids. Three boys between the ages of fifteen and eleven and then we have a young daughter, who will turn four in April. It has been very interesting around our home because obviously the baby runs the house as you might imagine. With a young girl in the house, the older brothers have really benefited from the interaction with her; I think that it has enriched them immensely. It has really been a good thing.

Al: I'm sure the boys see her as a wonderful little princess.

Dean: And it has tempered them and given them a different perspective on many things.

Al: Are you familiar with Kevin Leman's book, The Birth Order Book?
Dean: I have heard that book referenced but haven't read it. What is she considered?

Al: She is an "Only/Baby". After five years, you start the family over. She is going to have many "First-born" characteristics while being spoiled rotten.
Dean: Oh yea! I think that we can acknowledge it right now-she is spoiled. However, we wonder what it will be like for her when all her brothers are gone.

Al: I have a daughter for whom the same thing happened. She had two older siblings with an eight-year spread between her and the next oldest. She really grew up as an "Only" child.

Dean: I was calculating in my head, she will be ten or eleven when her last brother, if he chooses to go to college, will be out of the house for most of the year. I wonder what it will be like for her then.

Al: At least for my daughter, Michelle, (who just got married last summer) my baby, everyone was leaving her all the time. Her siblings were going to school: packing up, coming back, and leaving again. We didn't plan it that way, but that is the way it happened.

Dean: Right now my oldest is in high school and the other is in junior high. It will be kind of curious when they all start to go away to college what it will be like for her. Actually, it is happening now as the boys get more of a social life outside the home.

Al: Right now, she is the center of attention and the little charmer. She is kind of the sun and they are her planets. There is nothing you can do about her siblings leaving other than to be sensitive to it. She is the golden girl, but it won't be long before that transition really starts to accelerate. When the boys get their driver's licenses, they will really start spinning out of her orbit of attention. I remember watching Michelle being left by her siblings; it was a difficult time for her. They would go off to college and then came back during breaks and doted over her again-only to leave again.
Dean: We know that we are going to go through it; it is just how do you reach a balance.

Al: That's true, but had you reshuffled their conception times and avoided that problem, then you would have a different configuration with different problems. No matter how you configure your family, you are going to have one set or another of problems. Solve one set, you merely create another set.

Dean: There is no way around it. I guess that we just need to be aware of it and do the best you can. You can't stop the old ones from growing and moving on with their lives, and she needs to move on with her life, too.

Al: One of the things that I have discovered in my old age is that often the problems that we address creatively can become blessings. We learn from setbacks more than we do from success.

Dean: Isn't that what it takes to be successful-overcoming the hurdles of life?

Al: Absolutely. So, when it comes to your daughter, she will be unique because of the way the sun shone on her. What she needs to do is utilize her uniqueness. I don't think you have to worry too much about it. It is obvious that her parents are concerned and love her a great deal. I think that she is going to be different because her birth order was different. For me, while Michelle suffered, that suffering will make her more sensitive to those issues of separation. She is much more loving than she would have been had she been shoved into another ordinal position in her family. She needs to learn how to optimize her uniqueness just as we all should do.

Dean: That's a good point; she can't compare herself to them.

Al: Yes, she will have her limitations, but she will also have blessings-she has a loving family who think of her as the cutest thing since puppy dogs.

Dean: She knows that now.

Al: Dean, I would like to know from you what it is that you can pass on to another generation of kids, students, or anybody who reads this. What is it that you have learned in life that would help somebody not to have to reinvent the wheel.
Dean: I think that people have to learn the lessons for them.

Al: What would you want to drum into your kids' heads whether they will listen or not.
Dean: I just think with my kids, I try to emphasize the importance of effort. Not to get back to DeVry, but it is the attitude thing more than one of aptitude. Everyone is given certain gifts. It is up to me as a parent to help my kids cultivate their gifts. That is what we try to do at DeVry. You cultivate gifts through effort.

Al: How do you put that goal into action with your kids or the students here at DeVry?

Dean: Well, it takes work. You need to channel effort. If the student wants to learn, you can help them achieve their goal. When a child is struggling with a course, I know that ultimately that child will succeed. I am more troubled with a student that gets an A without effort than the one who gets a B and really tries. We ask our faculty to recognize student leaders. There are students, that aren't necessarily employed by DeVry, who help other classmates with problem-solving and setting up study groups for those that need a little bit of help. We don't want to see anyone fall through the cracks. Once we give students the opportunity to come to school, the most gratifying thing for us is to see them graduate and succeed.

Al: It is good for business and certainly will help your endowment fund.

Dean: But, if we are a good school, we become a good business. The best thing DeVry can do is put out good graduates who say, "I went to DeVry." That will do more for us than any endowment fund could ever realize.

Al: One final question: when you die, what do you want on your headstone-other than your name spelled correctly?

Dean: Educator. I want to be remembered as an educator at DeVry and at home. Left to one word as an epitaph, it would be "Educator".

Editorial comment worth noting: Dean Edwards oversees the fastest growing of all the DeVry campuses throughout North America.