May 9, 2017

Arthur Chickering Named Distinguished Alumni at Teachers College, Columbia University

Arthur Chickering, SUNY Empire State College's founding vice president of academic affairs.
Founding Vice President for Academic Affairs Arthur Chickering in a 2011 photo. Photo/Empire State College

Teachers College, Columbia University, has announced that Arthur Chickering, the founding vice president of Academic Affairs at SUNY Empire State College, received the Teachers College Distinguished Alumni Award at its Academic Festival on April 8. 

Chickering was among the educators and scholars chosen by then SUNY Chancellor Ernest L. Boyer to review his seminal document describing the college, “Prospectus for a new University College,” in February 1971. 

The SUNY Board of Trustees had only recently approved the creation of the college at its Jan. 11, 1971 meeting, largely based on Boyer’s prospectus. Boyer had founding President Jim Hall, also among those chosen to review the prospectus, on board by April 1, as the college’s “director.”  

Hall recruited Chickering to be part of the team. Boyer, in turn, appointed Chickering on July 1, and the college opened in September. 

Chickering has been an esteemed teacher, scholar, coordinator of assessment and senior administrator in higher education for more than 40 years, and is one of the leading researchers in student-development theory. 

During the 1960s, Chickering had been involved with Goddard College, Plainfield, Vt., an innovative, progressive private college. 

He directed a federally funded research project on 13 small American colleges to study the impact of colleges on students and their “influence on attitudes and impact on personality characteristics.”  

Chickering’s ideas and research have helped higher education administrators understand the developmental progress of their students and acted as a foundation for other student-development theories that have been detailed following his first influential publication in 1969, "Education and Identity," which won the National Book Award from the American Council on Higher Education. 

He introduced the seven-vector theory of students’ development in college, a departure from stages and phases of progression toward maturation, autonomy and identity formation. 

As founding vice president of academic affairs at SUNY Empire State College, he is credited with playing a critical role in the creation, successful establishment and subsequent development of SUNY Empire. 

Chickering earned a B.A. from Wesleyan in 1950, an M.A. from Harvard University Graduate School of Education in 1951 and a Ph.D. from Columbia University in 1958.

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