Educator David Helfand Is Next ‘Leading Voices’ Speaker
September 24, 2012 by Keith Chapman
David Helfand, president of Quest University, will speak at Dartmouth as part of the “Leading Voices in Higher Education” strategic planning speaker series. The October 1 talk, free and open to the public, will begin at 4 p.m. in the Nelson A. Rockefeller Center 003. His lecture, “Undergraduate Education for the New Millennium: Starting From Scratch,” reflects more than 35 years of experience in higher education.
David Helfand is the president of Quest University Canada, Canada’s first independent, not-for-profit, nonsectarian university in the liberal arts and sciences. (photo by William Thompson)
“Universities, built on a 19th-century model, are being asked to address 21st-century problems and to educate 21st-century students,” Helfand says. “It’s not always a perfect match. I will discuss an alternative model for undergraduate education and institutional structure that we have put into practice at a university designed from scratch with these issues in mind, Quest University Canada.”
Helfand began work at Quest, which opened its doors to students in 2007, as a visiting tutor. Located in Squamish, B.C., Quest is Canada’s first independent, not-for-profit, nonsectarian university in the liberal arts and sciences. It offers only one degree, a bachelor of arts and sciences, for its 425 students. According to its website, Quest operates on a block schedule plan in which students take one class at a time. Previously, Helfand was a professor of astronomy at Columbia University, where he served as department chair for 18 years.
“David is on a bold and promising path—putting student achievement ahead of absolutely everything else on Quest's institutional agenda,” says Thomas Luxon, the Cheheyl Professor and director of the Dartmouth Center for the Advancement of Learning.
The “Leading Voices” series started in 2010. The first season, “Leading Voices in Politics and Policy,” brought national political figures, presidential candidates, and policymakers to campus. This summer’s “Leading Voices in U.S. Foreign Policy” included a Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist, a former Defense Department official, and a distinguished Navy admiral. The ongoing “Leading Voices in Higher Education,” part of the strategic planning process, has featured visits from prominent writers and figures in higher education.
The next “Leading Voices in Higher Education” speaker is Freeman Hrabowski, one of TIME’s most influential people of 2012. The president of the University of Maryland, Baltimore County, Hrabowski will deliver a lecture October 23.