THIRTY-SEVEN YEARS AND CICS

By Dr. Conrad W. Worrill (March 6, 2003)

 

 

            Recently Northeastern Illinois University in Chicago, Illinois issued the following announcement:

 

                        “As you may know, Governor Blagojevich has appointed Carol Adams as

‘Secretary’ of the Department of Human Services. We congratulate her and

thank her for all that has been accomplished at the Center for Inner City

Studies under her direction. In the interest of maintaining and building upon

the momentum she helped to create at the Center, we are pleased to announce

that Dr. Conrad Worrill has accepted the University’s offer to serve as Acting

Director of the Center for Inner City Studies beginning March 1, 2003.

 

Dr. Worrill holds a Ph.D. in Curriculum and Instruction from the University of

Madison-Wisconsin, an M. A. in Social Service Administration from the

University of Chicago, and a B.S. in Group Work from George Williams College.

He joined Northeastern in 1976 as a Lecturer in the Department of Inner City

Studies Education. In 1977, he was appointed Chair of the Department and served

in that capacity for most of his career at Northeastern. Dr. Worrill is currently

Professor and Coordinator of the Inner City Studies Education Program in the

Department of Educational Leadership and Development. Please join me in

wishing him well in his new assignment.”

 

            The Center for Inner City Studies (CICS) was established in 1966 during the early years of Northeastern Illinois University, which was founded in 1963. Dr. Donald Smith, one of the few Black professors and the first Director of CICS, provided the initial leadership in conceiving of the idea and mobilizing the university community to support this project. However, one former Director of CICS, Dr. Donn Bailey, revealed, “The educational aspirations and demands of the largely Black inner city community in the mid 1960s were so forcefully and compellingly put that one can say that the community sired the Center for Inner City Studies.”

            Outstanding educational leaders in the Chicago inner city, such as Dr. Barbara Sizemore, Dr. Anderson Thompson, and grassroots community residents, gave Dr. Smith the support he needed to convince the college that such a project was necessary. Federal funding was granted from the Office of Education that provided the initial support for two years before becoming a permanent part of the university’s academic programs. He then gathered a brilliant staff of inner city educators from Chicago and across the nation, who developed the initial graduate CICS curriculum. This distinguished group included Dr. Nancy Arnez (the second Director of CICS), Dr. Donn Bailey (the third CICS Director), Dr. Edward Barnes, and Dr. Sonja Stone (the first Chair of the Department of Inner City Studies Education).

            The first CICS program was the federally funded, Experienced Teacher Fellowship Program (ETFP), a masters degree program for retraining inner city teachers, who were struggling to understand and serve the communities where they worked. The students came from many urban areas throughout the United States. In 1968, this innovative experiment led the College of Education to establish the Department of Inner City Studies Education, with two masters degree programs, and M.A. in Inner City Studies Education and M. Ed. in Inner City Studies. In 1970-71, the CICS undergraduate program evolved from another federally funded program, the Career Opportunities Program (COP). This program resulted in the full certification of four hundred inner city Teacher Aides, who had virtually sprung from the inner city in the wake of the urban rebellions of the 1960s.

            Under the leadership of two brilliant African Centered faculty members, Dr. Jacob H. Carruthers and Dr. Anderson Thompson, CICS had endeavored, for over thirty-seven years, to develop a curriculum philosophy and theoretical framework that examine social experience from an African perspective. The rewards of these efforts have been enriching for the academic community world wide, as well as the inner city community.

            Through its curriculum arm, the Department of Inner City Studies Education (now an academic program in the Department of Educational Leadership and Development) and CICS have successfully developed graduate and undergraduate programs. These programs combine Inner City Studies with sequences and concentrations in Educational Leadership/Type 75 Certification, Inner City Careers, African Caribbean Studies, experienced and prospective teacher programs, as well as developing the Mexican/Caribbean Studies Minor. Some of these programs led CICS to the development of other major thrusts. African Caribbean Studies spawned the Kemetic Institute and the establishment of the African Study Tours, which broadened the CICS curriculum to include on-going international student and faculty participation. The Career Opportunity Program of the early 1970s was the foundation of the CICS undergraduate program. Similarly, the Inner City Careers Minor has given birth to the collaboration with, and establishment of, a combined major in Elementary Education or Early Childhood that leads to a Language Arts Endorsement. The Inner City Studies faculty has recently completed the proposal for an Africana Studies Program for undergraduate and graduate students, which is presently under review to be added to the university curriculum.

            From our base of service to the community, CICS has become a leader in the educational community. Out of nearly 1000 graduates from CICS’ masters degree program, approximately 150 have gone on to earn their Ph.D. An impressive percentage of CICS undergraduates have obtained their bachelors degree and continued through the ICSE masters program. Indeed, many of our graduates have attained high positions in the institutions that serve the inner city from the public schools and other educational institutions as teachers and administrators, to city administration, police and correctional administration, municipal and circuit court judges, and a variety of social services agencies, both private and public. Thus, the ideas generated at CICS are now a part of the thinking of many of those who in leadership positions throughout America.

            For those who are interested in pursuing an academic career that deals with the problems and prospects of the inner city, should contact the Center for Inner City Studies for a full orientation of how to become involved in its academic programs. It is important that we become experts on the trends and developments of the inner city.

 
National Chairman
National Black United Front (NBUF)


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