Creating a College That Works

Audrey Cohen and Metropolitan College of New York

By Grace G. Roosevelt

Subjects: Education, Education Policy And Leadership, Biography
Paperback : 9781438455884, 364 pages, March 2015
Hardcover : 9781438455891, 364 pages, March 2015

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Table of contents

List of Illustrations
1. Introduction: “I’ve got this idea I want to work on and I’m going to need some help. ”
2. The Education of an Activist (1931–1963): High School, College, Travels with Mark, Part-Time Research Associates
3. “My Fork in the Road Presented Itself” (1964–1965): A Focus on Jobs, Community Outreach, Up Against a Male Bureaucracy
4. She Wouldn’t Take No for an Answer: Groundwork, the OEO Grant, Family Matters
5. The Women’s Talent Corps (1965–1967): Corps Women, CTs, Early Successes, New Careers, for the Record, Dellie Bloom’s Social Notes
6. Trial by Fire (1968–1972): Growing Pains, the Strike, the Aftermath, Faculty Overhaul, Dissent at Home
7. Reinventing Higher Education (1973–1974): The Process, the Breakthrough, Early Implementation, a Deweyan Model?
8. The College for Human Services Gains Recognition (1975–1979): In the Background, the Change Game, Doing Crystals, Service as Empowerment, Old Struggles on a New Level, Alida Mesrop Becomes Dean
9. Constructive Actions (1980–1989): Looking Forward, Faculty Development, the CA Document Evolves, Improving the World, Student Success Stories of the 1980s, a Second Marriage
10. Beyond Vocational Education: Washington and Du Bois Revisited, Great Books, Teaching, the Theory-Practice Nexus in Theory and in Practice
11. The Triumphs and Challenges of Leadership (1990–1999): Support Systems, Collaboration or Control?, The Schools Project, Audrey Cohen College, Her Final Battle
12. MCNY in the New Millennium (2000–2014): Transition, Troubles at the Top, Purposes-Centered Education in the Lives of Recent Students, Continuity and Change, Audrey Cohen’s Legacy
The Key Players
Sources and Acknowledgments

Examines the life of education activist Audrey Cohen and her founding of Metropolitan College of New York.


In 1964 educational activist Audrey Cohen and her colleagues developed a unique curricular structure that enables urban college students to integrate their academic studies with meaningful work in community settings. Creating a College That Works chronicles Cohen's efforts to create an innovative educational model that began with the Women's Talent Corps, evolvied into the College for Human Services, and finally became, in 2002, what is now Metropolitan College of New York (MCNY), a fully accredited institution of higher education that offers bachelor's and master's degrees.

Focusing her attention on the major players in the development of MCNY, Grace G. Roosevelt provides a ringside seat during the years of turbulence, hope, and innovation in the 1960s and '70s. She captures the life of a visionary educational leader while situating Cohen's ideas within the history of progressive education. Cohen and her colleagues, facing great opposition, petitioned and marched, and were harassed and rebuffed. But they persevered, and today the college they founded continues to graduate hundreds of students dedicated to improving their communities, workplaces, and schools in the New York metropolitan area. Woven throughout the narrative are the changing dynamics of the civil rights movement, questions about women's leadership roles, and stories of how adults have transformed their lives through Cohen's innovative educational model.

Grace G. Roosevelt is Associate Professor of Education at Metropolitan College of New York and the author of Reading Rousseau in the Nuclear Age.