In a really solid piece from today’s Record, Danielle Sanzone reports on how some changes to an Animal Advocacy program at Hudson Valley Community College led to the partial return of grant money provided by Bob Barker, of The Price is Right fame and a long time animal rights activist.
Approximately $62,500 of the grant was used to develop curriculum, market the program, recruit students, support professional development/student conference attendance and events, and offer lectures related to animal advocacy, outreach, policy and law to both students and the community, said college spokesman Dennis Kennedy, noting that this was all done in accordance to the agreement made with Barker.
However, she felt that the program took a different direction during the spring semester, with less of a focus on advocacy and more of a focus on law and policy, which, she said, confused, frustrated and discouraged students. “Simply, this new direction is not what I registered for.”
Knowing absolutely nothing about this program or anyone involved in it, I’ll be cautious to presume too much (and maybe Ms. Sanzone can inform this post).
This seems like an awesome opportunity that was provided to and by HVCC. They managed to secure funding to develop a program that covers a very niche area. Which is utterly fantastic and exactly what we should be encouraging our universities and colleges to do.
But my guess (and it’s just that) is there was some concern over what the program would look like moving forward. The term “advocacy” comes with some political connotations. It’s undervalued and misunderstood in higher education so to have a program that was partially devoted to that may have concerned administrators. Advocacy can mean various things – to grassroots organizing and mobilizing people for collective action to traditional lobbying and research. The problem is most folks see value in the latter. So programs get watered down and redeveloped to serve a more conventional purpose – thus “Animal Law and Policy.” Ugh, how dry.
Either way, it’s pretty cool to see that even with the return of the start-up money, that the university is dedicated to maintaining the program in some shape or form. I’ve never even heard of another school with a program like this, so at least they are still providing this unique certification to their students. Hopefully, the faculty and administrators will address the concerns of the students.
Photo: Flux Axiom via Flickr