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Learning from a Diverse Classroom: Lucie Taubenblatt Lapovsky ’69 IVAc

Lucie Taubenblatt Lapovsky has had a distinguished career in higher education administration. An avid math student at Packer, she was an economics major at Goucher College. As a graduate student at the University of Maryland, she became interested in the impact of tuition increases on college choice and college attendance. That topic, coupled with tuition discounting, has been the focus of her research over the past 40 years. 

In 1999, after serving as the chief financial officer of Goucher for nine years, Lucie became the president of Mercy College in Dobbs Ferry, NY. She served in that role for five years and today remains a member of the faculty as a professor of economics. Lucie also works across the country as a higher-education consultant and is a columnist for Forbes.

As CFO at Goucher College and president at Mercy College, I was driven by seeing how to provide a quality education as efficiently and cost effectively as possible. One of the privileges of working at a college or university is that you get to be around students and be a part of the face of the future. Mercy College, a large low-tuition private college with a very diverse student body, offered me extraordinary opportunities in this regard.

We benefited from the multitude of backgrounds and frames of reference that our students brought to the classroom and to our co-curricular activities. Whether in an English, chemistry, or economics class, we were able to explore the different things each of us took for granted — as well as topics many of us were hesitant to explore. A course at Mercy that explored death and dying, for instance, brought to light differences in the ways that students from various backgrounds addressed these issues. Race, ethnicity, and income were not the common denominator in these discussions, but rather religious beliefs and spirituality. We often learned that, alongside our differences and preconceived assumptions, we had more in common than we had ever thought.

My experiences in education have taught me the value of learning from others. Great faculty are wonderful for designing our curriculum and motivating us to learn, but the richness of the classroom experience comes from the different lived experiences of all of the participants. The challenge that lies before us is to work towards institutional leadership and faculties that are as diverse as our student bodies. Hopefully by educating our students with people who don’t always look like them, we will see significant changes in the diversity of our faculty and the leadership of our country in the decade ahead. 

This profile appeared in a feature on alumni in education published in the Summer 2016 issue of The Packer Magazine.

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