Emeriti Luncheon Talk, Nov 20, 2008
"The Smith Renaissance Society and Former Foster Youth at UCSC"
Bill Dickinson, Gary Miles, John Jordan
The past four or five years has seen an emergence of interest in what
happens to foster youth after they reach the age of eighteen and age
out of the foster care system. For most of them the prospects are bleak.
Thanks to the Smith Renaissance Society, founded in 1999, UCSC was the
first university in the nation where there has been a systematic effort
to facilitate the transition of former foster youth and runaways to the
university and to provide practical support for them once enrolled. Our
program continues to be unique and to be remarkably successful.
Bill Dickinson, an alumnus of UCSC's pioneer class whose career has
included teaching college English, speech writing, college
administration, and business writing and consulting, created the Smith
Renaissance Society as a memorial to Page and Eloise Smith, Cowell's
founding provost and his wife. The Society mobilizes alumni, faculty,
and staff to provide a supportive community for UCSC students who, like
Dickinson, are veterans of the foster care or delinquency systems,
spent years in homelessness, or are orphans without family support. Says
Dickinson, "We aim to provide today's students with the kind of
meaningful individual support and friendship that many of us enjoyed in
the early years at UCSC. We've been a huge success: as we enter our
tenth year, most of the nearly 150 students we've served stay in school
and graduate at a much better rate than many of their more fortunate
classmates. Many go on to first-rate graduate schools and fine
Gary Miles retired after 35 years of teaching History and Classics, 31
of them at UCSC. He has served along with Prof. John Jordan as
coordinator of the Smith Renaissance Society's mentor program for the
past six years.
Gary indicates that the Smith Society is actively seeking faculty mentors
and contributions for student fellowships. See the Smith Society web page