Cohort Work Begins

In March of 1990, Thomas McCarver, then Chair of the Education Department, submitted the results of a
five-year study of the Murray Scholarship funds to University administrators. His statistics showed that enrollment of Catholic school personnel in St. Thomas' graduate programs had dropped from 139 students in 1985 to 37 students in the fall of 1989 (Memo to Monsignor Murphy, March 27, 1990, UST Archives).

In summarizing the history of the fund, McCarver noted that originally students could receive one tuition-free course per semester for the length of their degree work. However, because of rising tuition costs, this remission had decreased to one free credit of coursework per semester. With the average teacher's salary set at $16,000, there was no incentive and little opportunity for Archdiocesan teachers to move beyond a bachelor's degree.

Therefore, Tom McCarver went on to propose,

[That] we consider delivering full degree programs to Catholic school teachers and principals in cohort fashion, which we (graduate education) have done with our extended degree activity. The Murray Scholarship money would be used to pay for the direct educational expenses incurred in offering the program. The largest part of this expense would be the faculty members' salaries, which could be calculated according to our part-time scale, which would be about $2,800 per course. With about $40,000 available to us through earnings on the Murray Scholarship, this means that we could offer approximately 11-12 courses for Catholic school teachers each year. Students would pay no tuition. The College would receive no income from student credit production in these courses. Should students fail to keep this commitment (to pledge at least three years of continued service in a Catholic school in the Archdiocese) they would incur the cost of the entire degree program. (Memo, March 27, 1990, UST Archives)

At the end of June 1990, Tom McCarver sent a follow-up memo to Msgr. Terrence Murphy, then President of the College of St. Thomas, reviewing his "go-ahead meeting with Provost Charlie Keffer." The first cohort-style delivery program for Catholic school teachers was set to begin in fall 1990. Over 200 teachers attended the information sessions, so McCarver decided to begin with two cohorts of 30 students each instead of one cohort.

Dr. Karen Ristau of the Educational Leadership department and Judy Ford, Director of Schools at the Catholic Education Center, determined the application criteria for these first two cohorts and oversaw the final selection of cohort members. They also determined the curriculum—a Master of Arts degree in Curriculum and Instruction, with the addition of two courses specifically designed for Catholic school teachers: Purposes and Contexts of Education in Catholic Schools & Religious and Moral Development in Schools.

The Catholic school cohort applicants were required to have spent at least 3 years in Catholic education prior to application and to commit to an additional three years upon completion of the program. The cohorts took one course each semester in a one-evening-per-week format at their off-campus locations and two courses on campus during a six-week summer session. The students were required to pay for initial testing, registration fees and books, but the MACI program was tuition free. The proceeds from the endowment paid the instructors' salaries—usually an overload course fee rather than one sixth of faculty load. The University assumed all of the rest of the internal costs of the program.

In addition to the teacher cohorts, this new delivery program would include "two courses per year for persons serving as principals in our Catholic schools," offered by St. Thomas Educational Leadership faculty at the Archdiocesan Education Center (Memo, June 25, 1990, UST Archives).

Catholic school Cohorts 1 and 2 successfully completed their studies in 1993. Simultaneously an effort called the Task Force on Catholic Education was underway that would change the way that the John Gregory Murray Fund would be administered from this point onward.