Deep Springs College (known simply as Deep Springs or DS) is a private two-year college in Deep Springs, California. With the number of undergraduates restricted to 26, the college is one of the smallest institutions of higher education in the United States.[1][a] Though it offers an associate degree, most students transfer into a four-year college after completing their studies. Those enrolled pay no tuition and are given room and board.

Deep Springs College
TypePrivate, two year
FounderL.L. Nunn
PresidentAndy Zink
DeanRyan Derby-Talbot
Total staff
30 (approximate)
Students26 (approximate)
37°22′26″N 117°58′48″W / 37.3739°N 117.98°W / 37.3739; -117.98

Founded in 1917 as Deep Springs, Collegiate and Preparatory, it was originally a men's college backed by funding from L. L. Nunn, a lawyer and businessman. Nunn envisioned an unorthodox form of education that combined academic rigor, manual labor, and self-governance. Located in a geological depression, its campus is situated within a cattle ranch with the aim of providing a secluded environment away from urban life so undergraduates may focus on their studies and leadership ability. The college is primarily maintained and self-governed by students, becoming a coeducational institution in 2018.

The college's alumni include Rhodes and Truman Scholars, two Pulitzer Prize recipients, three MacArthur Fellows, and winners of an Emmy and Lawrence Award, among multiple academics and congressmen.

History edit

L.L. Nunn, a graduate of Harvard Law School, founded Deep Springs

Deep Springs was founded in 1917 by L. L. Nunn, a business magnate who made a fortune building alternating current power plants in the Western United States. Nunn's first projects—a hydroelectric plant in Telluride, Colorado, and the Olmsted Power Station in Provo, Utah—served as the foundation for his inspiration to create a new type of educational institution.[3] As it became difficult to find enough engineers capable of living under rough conditions, he began schooling local men and pursued an interest in education.[4] Nunn eventually sold his industrial assets to fund the Telluride Association, an educational trust based at Cornell University, and the Telluride House.[5] After becoming dissatisfied with the association's mission, he founded Deep Springs and helped in its administration until his death in 1925.[6]

The establishment of Deep Springs was a reaction to what Nunn saw as a decline in academic standards in traditional American colleges.[7] His philosophy governing Deep Springs focused strictly around the pursuit of "academics, labor, and self-governance", something he dubbed the "three pillars" which supported the "whole man".[8] The inclusion of manual labor in a college's educational program was unusual in 1917, but a number of so-called manual labor colleges had existed in the United States in the 19th century—including, at one time, Oberlin College, which Nunn attended.[9] By the early 1860s, most had either closed or had abandoned their manual labor programs.[10]: 387 

These pillars entailed students playing an active role in the administration of the college by laboring in the field and contributing to student meetings during committees, which Nunn believed was an effective method of producing "leaders for a democratic society".[5] To this end, the board of trustees, which Nunn established to preserve the college's traditions, contained one—later two—seats that were reserved for student trustees, who were elected by the student body and currently remain with full voice and voting rights.[11] Due to his correspondence with these early student bodies, Nunn decided the college would provide student housing and would not include a tuition.[12]

In the 1990s, the school's leadership debated transitioning the college to be coeducational. Whereas many women in the Telluride Association advocated for the change, a large portion of the school's alumni wished to keep its status as a men's college.[13] Though the board of Deep Springs voted against making any change in 1994, the college later accepted a $1.8 million low-interest loan from Telluride under the condition that Deep Springs would begin admitting women by 2019.[14] In 2011, the college's trustees voted to begin accepting female students in the summer of 2013 but became embroiled in legal challenges which were lodged against the trustees' action.[15] The challengers disputed the authority of the college's board to change the admissions policy and included an injunction preventing the college from accepting female students until at least the 2018–2019 academic year.[16][17] On April 13, 2017, the California Court of Appeal ruled that the college could admit women in Hitz v. Hoekstra.[18] With the Supreme Court of California declining to hear an appeal,[19] the board of trustees voted once again to admit women, with the first female students arriving in July 2018.[20][21]

Curriculum edit

Deep Springs students and staff moving cattle

Deep Springs involves students working on tasks in the nearby ranch including "cooking, cleaning, gardening, milking cows, saddling horses, herding cattle, moving hay, butchering chickens, wiring cables, sorting library books, and fixing vehicles" with the academic curriculum dedicated wholly to the liberal arts such as Ancient Greek, philosophy, political science, and literature.[22] Classes are taught by a long-term faculty—the president, dean, and chairs of the natural science and humanities department—and a division of visiting professors and scholars which make up the short-term faculty, neither of which may hold tenure.[23] Undergraduates work a minimum of 20 hours a week,[24] rotating tasks while also studying for their classes.[25]

Students attend classes during the morning and spend the afternoon working on the ranch.[26] Though the majority of learning is loosely regulated and done mainly through informal discussions, there are two required courses: freshman composition and public speaking.[27] After graduation, approximately two-thirds of the student body transfer to an Ivy League university or another similarly ranked institution,[28][29] with a substantial portion going on to attend Cornell University, Brown University or the University of California, Berkeley.[25][30]

Self-governance is a critical part of the Deep Springs educational program. Students hold decision-making authority in determinations about admissions, curriculum, and faculty hiring. Every student serves on one of four standing committees during their time as a student: Applications (ApCom), Curriculum (CurCom), Communications (ComCom) or Review and Reinvitations (RCom). The Communications Committee (ComCom) was created in the early 1990s and charged with shaping the policies that define the college's relations with the world at large.[citation needed]

Campus edit

View from main ranch to Deep Springs Valley

Deep Springs College is isolated within Deep Springs Valley, a geological depression between the White and Inyo mountain ranges, with the nearest sizable town being Bishop, California, (an hour's drive away) and the closest commercial airport being in Las Vegas.[24] With the college's campus consisting primarily of its 32,000-acre ranch,[24] its physical isolation plays a central role in the educational experience. The college also contains a bookstore, post office, and a library, all maintained by students.[31] Partly due to Nunn's previous experience closing down a school in Virginia due to students deserting campus,[24] the school's "isolation policy" forbids students from leaving the college's campus and prohibits the use of alcohol.[32]

Deep Springs used to have a direct telephone line that crossed the White Mountains, but difficult maintenance made service unsustainable.[33] The line was replaced in the 1980s by a wireless radio link connecting to the Bishop central office. Because the radio signal is relayed using a repeater station high in the White Mountains, and because the first relay out of Deep Springs Valley does not have line of sight, the system is subject to outages caused by high winds and inclement weather. Previously, the college's Internet connection was an unusually slow 14.4 kbit/s data channel multiplexed into the radio link. Not later than 2011, the college connected to the internet by satellite.[34] Deep Springs has an FM radio-based Voice over Internet Protocol phone system,[34] and direct inward dialing.[35]

A small seismic station exists behind the main campus, installed by the former Soviet Union as part of a bi-national underground nuclear test monitoring agreement.[36]

Alumni edit

Despite the small number of admitted students, Deep Springs disproportionately produces members of academia with the majority of graduates going on to receive doctorates;[37] these include multiple scholars, professors, authors, scientists, and members of government. The college's alumni have been awarded Rhodes and Truman Scholarships, three MacArthur "genius grants", two Pulitzer Prizes, one Emmy award, and one E. O. Lawrence Award, among other honors. Prominent alumni include:

See also edit

References edit

  1. ^ Staley, 49.
  2. ^ Newell, 120.
  3. ^ Bailey, 28.
  4. ^ Anderson and Diehl, 13.
  5. ^ a b Anderson and Diehl, 14.
  6. ^ Bailey, 68.
  7. ^ Newell, 122.
  8. ^ Anderson and Diehl, 14–15.
  9. ^ Blodgett, Geoffrey (2006). "Myth and Reality in Oberlin History". Oberlin History. Essays and Impressions. Kent, Ohio: Kent State University Press. p. 12. ISBN 0873388879.
  10. ^ Lull, Herbert Galen (June 1914). "The Manual Labor Movement In the United States". Manual Training. Bulletin of the University of Washington. University studies,no. 8: 375–388.
  11. ^ Newell, Reynolds, Marsh, Green, and Wilson, 23.
  12. ^ Newell, Reynolds, Marsh, Green, and Wilson, 24.
  13. ^ Fleming, 214.
  14. ^ Goodyear, Dana (August 28, 2006). "The Searchers: The fate of progressive education at Deep Springs College". New Yorker. Retrieved October 1, 2019.
  15. ^ Rebecca R. Ruiz (September 19, 2011). "Elite, All-Male University of the Wild West To Go Coed". The New York Times. Retrieved June 13, 2012.
  16. ^ "Deep Springs College". Archived from the original on July 17, 2012.
  17. ^ Scott Jaschik (January 11, 2012). "Women Blocked at Deep Springs". Inside Higher Ed. Retrieved January 12, 2012.
  18. ^ "Appeals Court Issues Final Ruling Sustaining Lower Court Ruling for Coeducation – Deep Springs College". April 14, 2017.
  19. ^ "California Supreme Court Denies Request for Review, Lets Stand Appeals Court Ruling in Favor of Coeducation – Deep Springs College". June 29, 2017.
  20. ^ "Deep Springs Board Votes to Admit Women | Inside Higher Ed". Retrieved September 1, 2017.
  21. ^ "Coeducation". Deep Springs College. Retrieved October 1, 2019.
  22. ^ Staley, 49.
  23. ^ Staley, 49–50.
  24. ^ a b c d The Journal of Blacks in Higher Education, 43.
  25. ^ a b Newell, Reynolds, Marsh, Green, and Wilson, 24.
  26. ^ Anderson and Diehl, 16.
  27. ^ Anderson and Diehl, 17.
  28. ^ Newell, Reynolds, Marsh, Green, and Wilson, 26.
  29. ^ Newell, 124.
  30. ^ Fleming, 209.
  31. ^ Newell, 123.
  32. ^ Newell, 122.
  33. ^ "To contact us, call your long distance carrier and ask for Deep Springs Toll Station #2." A toll station was a non-dialable point – effectively, a single line manual exchange with no local calling area and one lone subscriber. The only way to call in was to have a long-distance operator ring the inward operator in Victorville (routing code 619+058+121) who would then put the call through manually. "Deep Springs Toll Station #2." was the published number until 1987; an attempt to call this in 1989 reported "not in service". – The inward operator, Telecom Digest (listserv), Robert E. Seastrom; 1989
  34. ^ a b Deep Springs College Accreditation Team Evaluation Report March 21-24, 2011
  35. ^ "Employment FAQ". Deep Springs College. Retrieved July 18, 2022.
  36. ^ "Monitoring". Nevada Seismological Lab. Retrieved July 18, 2022. 37.37,-117.97 Deep Springs, California w84gm
  37. ^ Tierney, 35.

Notes edit

  1. ^ In L. Jackson Newell's 1982 assessment of Deep Springs College, he states that it "ranks second among the nation's institutions of higher learning with respect to the aptitude of the students it admits".[2]

Sources edit

  • Anderson, Christian K.; Diehl, Kirk A. (2004). "An Analysis of Deep Springs College". Higher Education Review. 1: 9–32.
  • Staley, David J. (2019). Alternative Universities: Speculative Design for Innovation in Higher Education (1st ed.). Johns Hopkins University Press. ISBN 978-1421427416.
  • Fleming, Bruce (2009). "The Deep Springs College Cowboy Lunch". The Antioch Review. 67 (2): 207–232.
  • Tierney, William G. (1993). Building Communities of Difference: Higher Education in the Twenty-First Century (1st ed.). Greenwood Publishing Group. ISBN 978-0897893121.
  • Bailey, Stephen A. (1933). L. L. Nunn - A Memoir. Telluride Association.
  • Newell, L Jackson; Reynolds, Katherine; Marsh, L Scott; Green, Katrina; Wilson, Keith (1993). Maverick Colleges: Fourteen Notable Experiments in American Undergraduate Education (2nd ed.). University of Utah Press.
  • "Deep Springs College: The Nation's Most Selective and Almost All White College". The Journal of Blacks in Higher Education (44): 43. 2004. doi:10.2307/4133728. ISSN 1077-3711. JSTOR 4133728.
  • Newell, L. Jackson (1982). "Among The Few At Deep Springs College: Assessing A Seven-Decade Experiment in Liberal Education". The Journal of General Education. 34 (2): 120–134. ISSN 0021-3667.

External links edit