Nikki Payne was a good child.
She could hardly have been else in the backwoods hamlet of Antigonish, Nova Scotia. But she was a good child even so, and when she had more or less grown up she enrolled in the Recreational Ed program at Nova Scotia Teachers College, to make her parents happy, which is how good she was. From that perspective, the prospect of a life in sweat socks looked not too drab, really.
Then one day she heaved an outsized hawk costume over her tiny frame and suddenly, there in the murk underneath the feathers and felt, her future seemed as plain as the beak on her head: Comedy.
The occasion for this epiphany was a campus visit by stand-up comic Simon B. Carter, and as mascot for the hockey team, Payne was selected to introduce him. Someone suggested she do a few bits of her own, to warm up the audience, and the rest is hysterics.
"I was petrified," Payne says. "I would not want to see that five minutes today."
But it couldn't have been that bad. Carter sensed talent under all that wingspread. "He liked what he saw, and he gave me some phone numbers. And then I came up to Toronto on summer vacation."
Once in the big city, Payne connected with Mark Breslin through some open-mike nights at his comedy club. Breslin is no small spuds in the comedy field: He owns and operates the international chain of clubs, Yuk Yuk's. He rescued Jim Carrey from obscurity on the grueling amateur circuit. He's performed plenty of stand-up, and he's written several rollicking scream-of-consciousness type books. And Breslin cofounded the acclaimed, intensive comedy program at Humber College of Applied Arts & Technolology.
"Mark had seen me a few times and he liked me," Payne says. "So I moved."
What struck Breslin was what he calls Payne's fearlessness. "She's not afraid to lose her dignity onstage, and that's true of all the great comics," he says.
Once enrolled in the Humber program, Payne began working regularly at Yuk Yuk's and other venues, eventually embarking on small tours around the region. In the beginning, it was wing-and-prayer time.
"I didn't know anything but what I'd seen on TV," she says. "I mean, there were no comedy clubs in Nova Scotia when I was growing up. The first time I ever saw a comedy show was when I was on one."
At Humber, Payne began unearthing some other aspects of her talent as well. The college proudly bills its two-year program as the world's only comprehensive comedy curriculum. A tall claim, but it is true that while many colleges and universities offer improvisation here, sitcom there, Humber's catalog covers the waterfront, wackywise.
"Stand-up, improv, history of comedy, schtick," Payne litanizes. "Yep. Schtick. That's a kind of physical comedy. But you have to take all of those courses."
The instructors at Humber are not exactly dimestore clowns. There's Allan Guttman ("He was our improv teacher. Also one of the organizers of the course. Kind of a big shot on campus.") Guttman's talent finds include the improv wizards Colin Mochrie and Ryan Stiles, of "Who's Line Is It Anyway?"
Another faculty bright bulb is Lorne Frohman, sitcom and screenplay instructor and Payne's mentor at Humber College. Frohman has won scads of Emmys working with such luminaries as Richard Pryor, Lily Tomlin, and Whoopi Goldberg. But it's his steady approach to a chaotic business that has guided Payne.
"Just having him as a teacher was so great," she says. "He was always reminding us to 'keep your mind on your work.' Because you can get real caught up in the showcases, in who's getting what deals. But it's about the work you're doing, you sitting down and writing every day. Keeping it real."
Payne graduated from Humber's two-year program last May, and she's still working on keeping it real. Canada's CBC-TV aired her standing-ovation performance at the Halifax Comedy Festival. She acted in CBC-Radio's "Madly Off in All Directions," and appeared on the TV series "After Hours with Kenny Robinson." Last year, she won the Grand Prize on the Comedy Network's "Search for Canada's Funniest New Comic." She performed in dinner theater, for heaven's sake.
But Payne is self-contained, unperturbed, cautious with success. "I'm still pretty much developing at the moment," she says. "I don't want to jump the gun. People tell me, 'It's time! You gotta go to the States now!' But you can fall flat on your face if you're not ready. The world can wait."
Breslin thinks it's this level-headed line of attack that will get Payne to the top in one piece. "She knows she's got something very unique," he says, "and she's willing to bide her time and do it right. She's not looking for that fast Doritos commercial."
Like Breslin and others, Payne thinks of Humber College as the Juilliard of Comedy, but she knows it's impossible for any school to teach talent. "It's like we always say: You can't come to school to become funny, but you can come to learn how to be funnier. You're only going to enhance what's already there. Talent's one thing, but you gotta develop it."
Payne says that in refining her comedy talent, Humber helped her develop other life skills along the way. "Just the fact of going to college helps. I think you need that life experience. In college, you become the person you're going to become. Whether or not you ever use that degree or diploma, those are the years you learn what you're capable of.
"If I had never gone to college," she adds, "I wouldn't have found out that I was good at comedy. In college, you can fall on your face, but it's OK because you're learning."
Toronto is beginning to feel like home to Payne now, although she often only gets "just about enough time to do a load of laundry" in between tours and concert dates. Her jokes circle coyly around sex, but her parentsinitially nervous about her comic callingare "proud and supporting." She's still that good kid.
"I'm kind of cartoonish about sex," she giggles. "Basically, I've made a career out of talking about a subject I have no firsthand knowledge of."
Without hesitation, she names Jonathan Winters as her comedic hero ("He looks like my dad"). She takes the hectic pace with level practicality. "I try to sit down every day and write, at least get my mind in that set. For every great joke, there are a dozen crappy ones. It's like panning for gold."
Payne is spinning out some pretty good nuggets these days, though. She greets the growing applause with typical shruggery: "Do they even have comedy groupies?" she cries? "Oh, God, I wish! I want one. Write me!"
Nikki Payne lost the hawk costume, but she is hardly without feathers.
"Here's a Payne we don't want to go away," coos one critic. Another describes her as a "high-energy wild woman" and a "Raggedy Ann on Acid." Yet another reviewer is moved by her mere entrance onstage: "The whole room is in hysterics and she hasn't even said a word."
there's all that. But the road awaitsKitchener, Calgary
and those sweat socks are about done in the dryer
Online registration for the 2002 Conference on Information Technology is now available at www.league.org/2002cit. Early registration helps ensure that you reserve a place in the Learning Center Courses of your choice.
Long Beach is more than the industrial stepsister to Los Angeles. It is one of the country's largest ports and is fast on its way to becoming the center of Pacific Rim trade. Still, it's the palm trees and the sunny beaches for which this seaside city is most deservedly remembered.
The city's flourishing Pacific beachfront and revitalized downtown keep things hopping with southern California's trademark brand of bohemian nightlife. Bookstores, coffee houses, and trendy nightclubs abound.
Plenty of tourist attractions make the scene as well, including the stately Queen Mary, the Aquarium, the Long Beach Museum of Art, and the shops and restaurants of Shoreline Village. And Long Beach serves as the gateway to lovely Catalina Island. Lots to do in Long Beach? You bet! For additional information, visit http://www.visitlongbeach.com/main.htm.
L. Hawkins, President, EDUCAUSE
Charney, Senior Vice President, Cisco Systems
If you would like additional information about the 2002 CIT, please contact Ed Leach at firstname.lastname@example.org.
The dot-com crash. September 11. The downturn in the economy. All these calamities led to sweeping budget cuts in almost every state in the country. Now the other fiscal shoe is falling, as many community colleges have been forced to raise tuition to meet the cost of fulfilling their responsibilities.
In a quarterly survey of League Alliance CEOs about budget issues, 56 percent reported that their institutions had increased tuition, and 40 percent reported increased fees.
LeagueConnections asked leaders at several colleges to talk about their institutions’ tuition measures and how they have coped with the economic downturn.
PINKAS, COORDINATOR, LANE COMMUNITY COLLEGE (OR)
PROVOST/COO, SINCLAIR COMMUNITY COLLEGE (OH)
Faculty, administrators, and staff are just a click away from registering for the most exciting Learning Center Courses ever offered at the Conference on Information Technology (CIT). Learning Center Courses provide in-depth coverage of current topics in information technology, presented by recognized experts in the field. Enrollment is limited, so please register early.
New Learning Center Courses include strategies for
and retaining female students in IT programs
Back by popular demand:
• Learning Center
Courses related to finding balance in a fast-paced digital world
The League's longstanding commitment to hands-on learning is reflected in the lab-based Learning Center Courses designed for faculty, administrators, and staff. This commitment, coupled with course content unique to CIT, enables the League to offer conference participants unmatched opportunities for experiential learning opportunities. Lab-based courses this year include easy-to-use, cost-effective instructional applications of information technologies; hands-on experience with Macromedia Dreamweaver, Fireworks, and Flash; preparation to take the MOUS Certification exam (offered throughout the conference); designing and developing a companion website for traditional face-to-face courses; and designing and housing learning objects for online delivery.
Conference on Information Technology will take place November 17-20 at
the Long Beach Convention Center. To find out more about this event, please
or contact Ed Leach at 480-705-8200,
The League is now offering your college a 30-Day free trial of the Digital Publications Library. Through this offer, your institute will have unlimited access to all of the Library’s resources. Explore the opportunities this valuable online library can provide your college, including
24/7 access to all League books, monographs, and special reports
To learn how your school can join the growing list of subscribers or to sign up for the Knowledge Is Freedom program, contact David Spain, (919) 678-9900, ext. 114.
can also visit the League’s Digital Publications Library information
page at http://league.lulupress.com/about.html.
The League's newly created Service Division can help. Our Service Division provides high-quality, low-cost training, consulting, and speakers to community colleges.
In 2000, the League began a project designed to help 12 community colleges fulfill their commitment to become more learning centered. We have learned many lessons along the way and the League is now ready to share its experiences with other community colleges. Based on lessons learned and extensive research, the League developed a concept and methodology to help community colleges explore available options for becoming more learning centered. In this way, we can
Increase awareness and understanding of the fundamental principles of
the learning college.
With our model programs and best practices, we are positioned to help your college become more learning centered. Drawing on our experience and know-how, we can help you start the journey toward
Creating or expanding recruitment and hiring programs to ensure that new
staff and faculty are learning centered.
The June Edition of LeagueTLC highlights the STAR—Accelerated A.A. Degree Program at Coastline Community College. In addition to generating community interest, presentations, promotion, and the transfer of students have led several local four-year institutions to begin recommending and counseling their potential students to consider the Coastline Community College STAR Program, with a plan to return to the transfer institution for their upper division course needs. As the STAR Program experience deepens, training continues, and more faculty members become involved, program directors feel that a ripple effect of learning and exploration is growing beyond project parameters and positively influencing the college, university, and community as a whole.
LeagueTLC—Transformational Learning Connections—provides comprehensive, accessible information about innovative practices, projects, and strategies for improving community college education. Targeting new frontiers in leadership, learning, student services, technology, and workforce development, League TLC supports community college efforts to implement innovations by sharing experiences, ideas, and resources among developers and program adopters.
Nearly 75 percent of undergraduates are “nontraditional,” according to a recent article in the Chronicle of Higher Education. The article focused on “The Condition of Education,” a yearly report prepared by the U.S. Education Department’s National Center for Education Statistics.
According to the report, “traditional” students are loosely defined by the Department as those who have a high-school diploma, enroll full-time after high school, and depend on parents for financial support. Students classified as “highly nontraditional,” according to the article, are “likeliest to attend public two-year colleges.”
Every year the League honors outstanding innovations which have been recognized by member institutions as Innovations of the Year. These innovations represent capstone achievements and the continuing renewal of the spirit of innovation and experimentation upon which the League was founded.
Gilda Rubio-Festa and Ricky Simpson of Central Piedmont Community College produced an enhancement of the Crossroads Café telecourse for students with limited English proficiency. They created 30-minute wrap-around segments to improve students’ ability to master the material. The result is a high-quality pre- and post-viewing segment for each of the 13 episodes of Crossroads Café, making a full hour-long class in a distance-learning format. Research has shown that Crossroads Café is more effective when paired with an organized program of classroom teaching by a qualified ESL instructor. Funding provided the production of the next 13 episodes, the distribution of the first 13 videos to all North Carolina colleges, three teacher sessions, and the development of a website with civics education resources and lesson plans.
Colleen Olson and Elizabeth Walker-Knauer put together an interdisciplinary team composed of Cuyahoga Community College faculty who traveled to Chicago’s Erikson Institute to learn about brain development and research. The faculty, representing the areas of early childhood education, biology, and psychology, attended lectures and discussions with Erikson staff and neuroscience consultants. They brought back materials and information to the Cleveland faculty study group, which provided an opportunity for dialogue between child development faculty from different institutions with an ultimate goal of building the knowledge base of local early childhood educators regarding recent brain development research, and thereby enhancing teacher preparation.
Neville Britto was honored as a champion for the ideals of diversity at Delta College. He has contributed over a decade of leadership on the Human Relations and the Affirmative Action Committees. He also served on the President’s Commission on Diversity, which initiated conversations between local citizens and Delta employees. Britto’s support and leadership of Delta’s Global Awareness Week are unmatched. For over 20 years, his influence and enthusiasm for teaching English on campus and at the Ricker Center in Saginaw have increased enrollments and contributed to a more diverse student body. Along with his Innovation of the Year award, Britto received the 2002 Don Laughner Award for Creative Change.
Vivian Sinou’s work with Easy to Use Education Software (ETUDES) has positioned Foothill-De Anza Community College District-Foothill College in a statewide leadership role for online instruction. Under her leadership, student participation in Foothill’s online classes has grown significantly. She serves as a mentor for both new faculty and faculty who are new to e-learning. Sinou also is active in Expert Online, a collaborative service that links experts with professionals who are developing online teaching and learning strategies, Web course materials, and instructional uses of technology. She has participated in the creation of five online degree programs at Foothill College.
The Humber College of Applied Arts & Technology honors for Innovation of the Year went to Alvina Cassiani and Philip Sworden for their Department of Justice Canada Partnership. This innovation is a corporate training partnership between Humber’s Business School and the Ontario Regional Office of the Department of Justice Canada. It is designed to provide Humber’s two-year Law Clerk Diploma Program credential for the Department’s Toronto-area support staff. Expert faculty deliver onsite training to over 25 employees at class times mutually convenient to the department’s employees. This partnership provides high-quality professional development and a customized curriculum to experienced employees who wish to earn a recognized postsecondary credential to further their careers. As a result of this initiative, the Department of Justice Canada has presented Humber College with a Partnership Award, signed by the Prime Minister, and 25 of the Department’s employees are completing Humber’s two-year Law Clerk Diploma Program.
A team at Johnson County Community College designed an educational model called the Collaborative Science Initiative (CSI). Donnie Byers, Lynne Beatty, Kevin Cannell, John Hanson, and Johanna Foster formed this partnership between the Shawnee Mission School District and the Science Department to provide professional development training aligned with the Kansas science standards for fourth-grade teachers in the district. The goal of CSI is to help fourth-grade teachers make science exciting for their students. The design is to bring elementary science teachers to JCCC to receive content information and hands-on activities about science for use in their classrooms. They receive in-depth information and plans for classroom activities in chemistry, earth science, physical science, astronomy, and biology.
The Career Edge Academy at Kirkwood Community College is an opportunity for high school students to explore new careers and earn college credits while still attending high school. Winners for this innovation were David Bunting, John Henik, David Branstetter, Vivian Rose, Melanie Nollsch, Carl Sefl, Bill Beaty, Gary Jorgenson, Susan Willig, Mary Lou Erlacher, Joe Collins, Daryl McCall, Kathleen Van Steenhuyse, and John Haack. Many high schools have teamed with Kirkwood to create hot new career-academy programs that let students get an edge on the world of work and earn college credits during their last two years of high school. Career Edge programs include health sciences, automotive technology, local area networking, graphics, and media, engineering technology, and early childhood education. Each of these Career Edge programs gives students the chance to move up the career pathway they choose and get a jump on college while they’re still in high school.
The Spanish Program at Lane Community College developed a Learning Strategies Project to help students become more effective language learners. Faculty Devon Budz, Juan Cuadros, Roma Cusimano, Armand Gagnon, Elizabeth Hall, Matthew Luke, Sylvie Matalon-Florendo, Bojana Stefanovska, and Gloria Zabala adopted two mottos: Do it again, only better next time and How do we do it again, only better? These slogans elucidated the need for greater student involvement and academic and personal success through goal setting, autonomy, and responsibility for learning. The faculty developed a multitiered approach that incorporates six learning-strategy groups: memory, cognitive, metacognitive, compensation, affective, and social. Since its introduction in the fall of 2001, student input has been extremely favorable and instructors report a marked positive change in classroom environment fostered by lower levels of student anxiety, a growing sense of community and ownership in the program, and increasing levels of student creativity that developed out of a dynamic relationship between community and autonomy.
A team at Maricopa Community College District – Paradise Valley Community College won honors for its First Year Experience Program (FYE). The project integrates academic and co-curricular learning to help students transition successfully to college life. Students enroll in an FYE block of three or more courses as a cohort and remain with the cohort through the first year. FYE provides students with a holistic education to help them understand how college intertwines with real life. The classroom content is integrated with campus life, student services such as advising and tutoring, and service learning opportunities outside the classroom. Course content is linked or integrated so that students see the relationship between academic disciplines and with college activities. Members of the winning team are Marianne Auten, Bob Bendotti, Linda Chichester, Renee Cornell, Maggie Cullop, Paul Dale, Jan Downey, Anne Eller, David Gerkin, Dave Harbster, Kurt Hill, Michele Marion, Patri Mays, Lynn McClelland, Mary Lou Mosley, Donna Rebadow, Sally Rings, Cindy Shoenhair, and Paula Taylor.
Miami-Dade Community College District embarked on a high-visibility marketing campaign that re-branded its image by stressing educational quality. Everywhere You Turn: Successful Alumni used a variety of media with messages in both English and Spanish. It showed the far reaches of a Miami-Dade education by featuring alumni in more than 50 professionals, including United States politicians and ambassadors, the President of Panama, captains of industry and television anchors at the network and affiliate level, to name a few. All advertising and print efforts incorporated the Everywhere You Turn theme, and integrated communications were also accomplished with a consistent graphic look. Apart from generating a great deal of attention, these communications helped reinforce Miami-Dade’s magnitude and importance to the community, which in turn helped build a solid foundation for partnership efforts. The team generating this innovation included Maria “Pasita” Andino, Juan Cabrera, Ricardo Delgado, Lee Kline, Irene Gimenez Munoz, Malou C. Harrison, Lissette Mendez, Aileen Ochoa, Lina Rodriguez, Ellen Saltzman, Susan Smitherman, and Arturo Vales.
Visual and Performing Arts Professor James Coffey was the winning innovator at Monroe Community College. His Rochester Parent Network is an interactive childcare support network designed to connect parents and caregivers of young children to childcare professionals, local support systems, and each other. Its mission is to empower parents to develop their child’s full potential in the first three years of life. The first initiative, 292-BABY, is a telephone number that parents and caregivers can call 24 hours a day to find answers to health, childcare, or developmental concerns. The second initiative, Parent Talk, is a live 30-minute call-in television program that focuses on effective parenting and early childhood development. It will air locally each weekday.
At Moraine Valley Community College, Thomas Dow and Troy Swanson took a team-teaching approach to the research component of COM 101 with their Communications 101 Source-Based Writing Project. This initiative redefined research as a striving toward information literacy, stressing the successful integration of authoritative ideas from sources into written communication. The project maximizes the expertise of both teachers¾a composition instructor and a librarian. The assignment requires students to research a career and links information literacy and written communication skills to their everyday lives.
Faces of America was spawned by remarkably successful family photo exhibits at San Diego Community College District-Mesa College. The team of Colleen O’Connor, Mary Lou Locke, Patricia Olafson, Pamela Chapman, Ngoc Tran, Pat Yockey, Aimmee Rodriguez, and Leonore Raya created and coordinated the family photo history project, now being replicated nationwide at 30 community colleges. The faculty also coordinated the national effort funded by the National Endowment for the Humanities. Historical societies and other civic organizations have joined with their community colleges to conduct Faces of America. Family photos are researched and exhibited on campuses, in museums, and on the Internet. The initial exhibits were so successful that the San Diego Union-Tribune featured a year-long series titled “Faces of San Diego” and conducted its own exhibit. Local courthouses also replicated the project.
Seattle Community College District’s Bea Kiyohara, Yilin Sun, Bob Dela Cruz, and Jane Nakagawa spearheaded Journey to Democracy—Learning from the Japanese-American Experience. The Seattle Community Colleges led a consortium of local and national organizations to present a yearlong array of programs focusing on issues of civil liberties and the experience of Japanese-Americans during World War II. The project included art exhibits, statewide essay and art contests for high school students, a Civil Liberties Celebration with Senator Daniel Inouye as keynote speaker, and development of the first community college curriculum in the country to focus on the Japanese-American internment experience and its continuing implications for social justice today.
The math department at Sinclair Community College has developed hands-on, collaborative learning activities and incorporated them into the statistics and technical math courses. Robert Chaney, Barbara Carruth, Frederick Thomas, and Kay Cornelius developed a Math-Science Technology Center, experimenting with activities and using equipment and available materials. Their teaching of courses by incorporating hands-on, learner-centered activities as a primary component of course procedures and assessment exemplified the true spirit of the Learning College. This experience provides students with a challenging and stimulating opportunity to learn course concepts in a practical, concrete way, yet serves to deepen and broaden their perspective and understanding of topics covered. The use of technology and other lab equipment to involve and excite learners has created a rich teaching-learning atmosphere.
St. Louis Community College, Humanities Chair Richard
Kalfus teaches an innovative, nationally-recognized interdisciplinary
humanities course on the Holocaust. Called Life and Death During
the Nazi Era, it is delivered to high school students through
the medium of interactive television. Kalfus established a distance-learning
classroom in most of the St. Louis area school districts and was the first
college professor to develop and teach an interactive, distance-learning
college course for high school students.
Begun in 1990, the
Project focuses on the use of information technology in higher education.
The project helps to inform faculty, campus administrators, and others
interested in the use of information technology in American colleges and
Microsoft IT Academy members
now have access to great new tools to use in promoting and delivering
top-notch IT training programs. For instance, a new online seminar helps
members plan the set-up of training labs, and an online newsgroup enables
members to easily share best practices, pose questions, and exchange insights
with peers at other Academy sites. The Academy has also added new datasheets,
marketing templates, and a seminar how-to guide to help members promote
the hottest certifications from Microsoft such as MCSA, MCAD, MCSE, MCSD,
and MCDBA. To learn more about the Microsoft IT Academy Program, visit
The dates for the Converge-sponsored e-Services in Higher Education Conference in Chicago have been changed from June 17-18 to July 17-18.
The conference takes place in the Kellogg School of Management, Northwestern University. Areas of discussion at the conference will include a focus on Web services, instructional services as a business operation, and “helping to link horizontally across school functions.
for the conference is $175 before July 10 ($99 for League Alliance members);
$250 if you register after July 10 ($125 for Alliance members).
Every month, LeagueConnections brings you resources of interest and innovation, brief glances at the latest and most thought-provoking materials for community college professionals. Feel free to send your suggestions for our review of books and products to LeagueConnections.
Learning That Lasts: Integrating Learning, Development, and Performance in College and Beyond, by Marcia Mentkowski and Associates. Copyright, Jossey-Bass. 536 p.
“I find that a lot more things are grabbing my attention, and rousing my curiosity and making me want to delve into them further. . .”
If, for learning-centered practitioners, that isn’t precisely the Lost Chord, it surely is the sound of music. The quote is from Justine, one of hundreds of students who experienced growth through the “transformative learning” espoused by Marcia Mentkowski and her associates. Learning That Lasts strikes many more such tuneful notes, thanks to a harmonious combination of theory, practice, and research.
Mentkowski is a psychology professor and Director of Educational Research and Evaluation at Alverno College in Milwaukee. As in her previous book, Careering After College, she uses sophisticated longitudinal studies to show how students can achieve personal and intellectual growth by developing skills for lifelong learning.
Learning That Lasts is foremost about building bridges from learning to teaching, but critical within the structure is the importance of each student’s developing independent learning skills. That’s why, in spite of the author’s formidable research, elaborate diagrams, and often profound theoretical treatments, the up-close histories of the individual students are what make the book a thumping read.
“Our findings argue,” Mentkowski and her associates write, “that the curriculum scaffolded the students’ development of independent learning, giving them a safe space from which to explore their aspirations.”
yes. But perhaps you’ll like even better the way Justine frames
it: “I wonder who I will be 10 years from now, because it’s
happening, evolution is a reality in my life. And, it’s really neat;
I can’t wait to see who I’m going to be.”