Globe Editorial

All learning, no paperwork

September 29, 2009

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WELLESLEY COLLEGE has wisely backed off its decision to stiff the senior citizens who audit classes for free.

Since the Wellesley residents don’t take tests or submit papers, allowing them to sample courses doesn’t put a big added burden on the professor. Nor is the college overrun with elderly auditors. In total, about 100 participate each semester.

As the Globe reported yesterday, the college curtailed the program, saying budgetary constraints made it hard to manage. But can administering a program that consists of 100 senior citizens sitting quietly in classrooms be such a burden?

“We developed a quite cumbersome and labor-intensive system for registering auditors,’’ explains dean Andrew Shennan.

The solution is obvious - and Wellesley has arrived at it, if a little belatedly: Cut out the college bureaucracy by having senior citizens themselves contact the professors whose courses they hope to audit.

If the college can make good on Dean Shennan’s intentions and get the town’s seniors back into its classrooms, Wellesley will have lived up to its motto, Non ministrari sed ministrare, or “Not to be ministered unto but to minister.’’ Not only that, but it will have found a refreshingly entrepreneurial way to do it.

Correction: An editorial Tuesday misspelled Wellesley College's motto. It is "Non ministrari sed ministrare."

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