Sept. 29

Letting Leno Have It (Gently)

After 2,700 miles of motorcycling and nonstop promotion of community
colleges, Betty K. Young got the opportunity she'd been waiting for: to give
Jay Leno a little piece of her mind, on behalf of insulted community college
officials everywhere.

 Leno had perturbed leaders of two-year colleges with his occasional cracks
and gibes questioning the intelligence of those who've attended the
institutions, and by ignoring letters they'd written urging him to stop. So
in June, Young, president of Ohio's Northwest State Community College, hit
upon an idea: inviting (daring?) Leno to hop on one of his Harley-Davidsons
and ride with the motorcycle-driving Young while talking about community

The comedian (or, more likely, his publicists) ignored that invitation, too,
and so last month, the college announced
<>  that Young and some of her
aides would head out to Hollywood, where Leno tapes "The Tonight Show," on a
seven-day swing in which they would also tout the crucial role that two-year
institutions in preparing workers and educating lifelong learners.

The  <> "Lessons for Leno
National Tour," as it was called, made stops at community colleges in
Joliet/Chicago, Ill., St. Louis, Little Rock, Dallas and Phoenix before
hitting Los Angeles. In each place, Young and local and national community
college officials met with reporters, promoted the local colleges' programs,
and did everything they could to promote the two-year-college sector.

But all along the way, Northwest State officials were angling behind the
scenes to arrange a meeting between Young and Leno. On Tuesday, Young and
others attended a taping of "The Tonight Show" (featuring Jennifer Garner
and Stephen Stills), and after it ended, Young was invited on stage for a
short, friendly chat with the comedian.

"Leno told me he and his staff didn't think they had particularly offended
the community college family," Young said on the blog she kept during the
10-day tour, which ended Wednesday. "But looking him eye to eye (he is
taller than he looks on television), I told him there were several random
remarks that were painful and unjust."

Young said she told Leno about "how his 'bully pulpit' can open so many
doors for Americans at community colleges, rather than closing doors with
negative commentary in the future."

In an interview Tuesday while she waited in line for the show, Young called
the tour an "overwhelming success." "It's just a good example of how with a
little idea, you can make things happen," she said. "It's the kind of
approach our students and graduates use every day."

-    Doug Lederman <mailto:[log in to unmask]>



The big irony of this is that people look down upon community colleges, and
I know very few professors that would let their kids attend one. Sure they
say that they "would" but, in reality, they don't. Other peoples' kids can

Naturally community college administrators can choose to undertake a PR
stunt, but maybe a better thing would be to show a near 100% acceptance rate
into "prestigious" schools and spectacular academic records of their
graduates - including professors.

Or they can go on a road trip.

Larry <> , at 7:35 am EDT on September 29, 2005

Dan Kern

Reading Skills

East Central College

1964 Prairie Dell Road

Union, Missouri (or MO)  63084-4344

Phone:  636-583-5195 ext. 2426

Fax:  636-583-0513

Email:   <mailto:[log in to unmask]> [log in to unmask]

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very far away from students."  (Andy Maedit)

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"In response to Palmer's statement, 'You teach who you are.'  Maybe that's
your problem." (Andy Maedit)

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