(903) 892-2020

Me Too: Gender Transformation and Global Change

Interview with Torry Dickinson, PhD, WISR Faculty Emeritus

 Thursday, April 5, 6-8pm

 Marilyn Jackson, PhD, WISR Faculty, Facilitator

 We will assemble at WISR to interview Torry Dickinson, WISR Faculty Emeritus, who will videoconference in to talk about the books she has published. She will especially comment on women’s struggles in honor of the Me Too movement.

Dr. Dickinson’s publications include:

Transformations: Feminist Pathways to Global Change;

Democracy Works;

Community and the World;

Fast Forward: Work, Gender and Protest in a Changing World; and CommonWealth.

Please RSVP marilyn.jackson@wisr.edu if you plan to participate by videoconference or phone and provide a phone# in case of technical difficulties.

Log on: https://zoom.us/j/283248761

or call 646 876 9923; 669 900 6833 or 408 740 3766;

Meeting ID: 283 248 761

WISR Wikipedia course continues until May 1st


Click to enroll in the WISR Wikipedia course.

Download signup instructions PDF. 

Accreditation Update and Next Steps

To upload this letter in pdf form, click here.


January 6, 2018

Update on WISR’s Pursuit of Accreditation and Finances

Accreditation Update and Next Steps

WISR has been declared eligible to pursue accreditation by the Distance Education Accreditation Commission (www.deac.org ).  Even though WISR offers ongoing opportunities for onsite seminars and face to face interaction, it is possible to study completely from a distance and earn a degree at WISR. As always, there are no guarantees, but we are hopeful that we can achieve accreditation by June 2020. DEAC is approved by the US Department of Education. WASC turned down our application for Eligibility last month, because they felt that we do not have, nor will we be able to develop, the large financial reserve and institutional infrastructure in the next two years that they expect of the (usually very large and conventional academic institutions they accredit).

DEAC has a number of very specific guidelines for course syllabi, so we will have to do some further tweaking of our syllabi. Still, as we do so, we will retain WISR’s strong emphasis on personalized/individualized degree programs and learning, and of course also, our commitments to social justice, multiculturalism, and action-inquiry and creativity in the content that students study.

We will have to make a transition to having our syllabi accessed through an online Learning Management System (such as Moodle or Canvas), our students will have to do a certain amount of “online studying” (studying some of the WISR-required readings and relevant videos online, not just hard cover print books), and some regular posting of “thinking out loud” ideas for feedback from other students and faculty (online dialogue—which will be easier for some students than having to come to two seminars per month—a requirement that so far only MFT students and a couple of other students have complied with).  We will have an initial discussion of first steps toward such refinements at our All School Gathering, Saturday, February 3rd (please try to participate, onsite or by phone/video conference).  In addition, our new volunteer staff (and student) Learning Technology Specialist, Mark Wilson, will conduct needed trainings on technology for students and faculty, alike, to help make this transition smooth.

Indeed, WISR has the opportunity now to become, after several years, a rather distinctive and appealing option—a distance learning alternative that:

  • Can be onsite and face to face for those who want that,
  • Will be engaging and socially progressive, rather than cookie cutter and conformist,
  • Will support and encourage self-directed learning that is also highly collaborative (through a combination of seminars, online forums, and student initiated collaborations),
  • Will continue to be affordable (despite likely, modest tuition increases in the not too distant future) and accessible to adults—especially those who are attracted by WISR’s long-held, steadfast commitments to our distinctive social and educational mission and methods.

Update on WISR’s Finances

We have made enormous progress, financially, in the past year, although we will need to continue and sustain this progress over the next several years, in order to become accredited.


In 2017, we received $44,108.12 in cash donations from 9 currently enrolled students, 5 Board members, 12 alumni, 2 current and/or former faculty, one staff person and 3 friends of WISR. The size of the donations has ranged from $18 to $15,000. All part-time faculty have been donating their time; John Bilorusky donated 33% of his salary and the cost of his health benefits for 2017 ($26,000 in salary, $9,000+ in health benefits).  These donations have been extremely valuable in our efforts to move WISR toward long-term sustainability.  Moreover, beyond this, WISR is benefiting from the continuing engagement of students, faculty, Board and alumni in learning at WISR and in WISR’s institutional planning and development.

One anonymous and very generous donor has given us $15,000 in 2017, based on our having received just over $12,000 in donations since their “challenge” match a month ago. If, in 2018, we can come up with $3,000 to finish matching their $15,000 already donated, and then an additional $15,000, they have promised to donate another $15,000 in 2018. That is, we need $18,000 to be donated in 2018 to match the $15,000 added donation pledged. So far, we have pledges totaling $12,250 for 2018, so beyond these pledges we need only another $6,000 to gain another $15,000 from this donor, in 2018.  In addition, in 2018, John Bilorusky will donate one-sixth of his salary ($13,000) plus health benefits ($9,000+).  Part-time faculty will continue to donate their time. John is asking that we also match his $13,000 donation of salary.

So, our challenge for 2018 to match $18,000 needed to receive the second $15,000 anonymous donation pledged, and to match the $13,000 in salary to be donated—or a total of $28,000.  So far, $12,500 has been pledged by others for 2018, so we need to receive from others who have not yet pledged, an additional $15,500 for 2018 to receive the $28,000 in monies from these two offered donations in 2018.

Based on donations received in 2017, we will be able to pay off the last $5,000 of debt in January 2018. Our ability to eliminate ALL of our debt is crucial to our becoming accredited, and whichstood at $45,000 in debt 18 months ago, and $37,500 in debt just six months ago. (go to next page . . .)

Regarding our use monies in 2018, we will use about $20,000 of these monies for accreditation fees, about $6,000 for technology and online library expenses, and about $8,000 for CPA-related expenses. These expenses will total $34,000.  Remaining funds will be used to set up a much-needed contingency fund—which is also expected by the accreditation agency.






$30,000 Matching Funds Opportunity! Donate to WISR in 2017 and in 2018

Matching Funds Opportunity!!!:

Completely unexpectedly and extremely generously, an anonymous donor from the WISR community came forward with an offer based on unexpected monies that have come their way.  They will match up to $30,000 of the donations WISR receives over the next 13 months–$5,000 for December, and $25,000 for 2018.  We have matched the $5,000 as of the end of December, and have received an additional $5,000 toward the $25,000 match for 2018.  With another $20,000 in donations in 2018, we will receive the total $30,000 offered under this matching funds opportunity.

Some of you have already given, and others may not be able to give, and we are suggesting that those of you who cannot donate, try to contact individuals or groups whom you know who may be able to donate.  The monies donated can substantially strengthen our ability to successfully pursue accreditation.

Photos and Details from WISR’s Recent 9th Annual Conference

To see photos and to read about the presentations, panel sessions, films and many of the key participants in this WISR’s recent Annual Conference, go to:  http://wisrville.org/annual-conference/

WISR Annual Funding Campaign Your Donations Matched up to $20,000

WISeR Campaign for Education in Social Justice

For: Western Institute for Social Research
Your Donations Matched up to $20,000 by the WISR Scholar Fund

The Story

Founded in 1975, the Western Institute for Social Research (WISR) links education and social change in offering personalized BS, MS and Doctoral degree programs to those who wish to combine academic studies, action research/community-based inquiry with their community activist and professional involvements.


The Persistence of Discrimination:

Why it Exists, Despite Decades-Old Civil Rights Laws; and How a Multidisciplinary Response By Lawyers, Therapists, Educators, Health Care Professionals, Artists, Community Activists and Journalists Can Help

 Saturday, July 22, 2017


All are welcome to this Cross-Disciplinary Seminar that is open to the public and available via videoconference. PDF Flyer; Online Flyer

This workshop provides 3 hours of CEUs for Attorneys, Educators, Healthcare Administrators and Health Care Professionals, Nurses, Psychologists, LMFTs, LCSWs, and LPCCs.

Guest presenter and Bay Area Human Rights Attorney Michele Magar will address the persistence of discrimination decades after enactment of civil rights laws, and how lawyers, therapists, educators, culture creators, and journalists are finding new ways to address it.

We will screen the 18-minute film, The Power of 504, which captures the birth of the disability rights movement when it occupied the federal building in San Francisco for 26 days in a successful effort to force the federal government to issue implementing regulations to a law barring disability-based discrimination.

Michele Magar is a Bay Area Human Rights lawyer and award winning journalist who uses a broad range of advocacy tools to advance civil and human rights.

Cost:  $30 for CEU Credit. $10 donation requested from other participants. CEUs can also be accessed by internet/video conference.

 For more information or to register, contact mail@wisr.edu

WISR Doctoral Student Karen Young awarded a mini grant for project to decrease consumption of sugar sweetened beverages among young adults

WISR Doctoral Student Karen Young was just awarded a $10,000 mini grant by LifeLong Medical Care and the City of Berkeley to implement a health education and awareness project.  Karen’s project is called Water Wise. The goal of Water Wise is to decrease the consumption of sugar sweetened beverages and increase the consumption of water. The Water Wise awareness competition will be an internet competition where individuals and groups age 16 to 24, may express the benefits of drinking water and the harmful effects of drinking sugar sweetened soft drinks in a 3 minute video. The Water Wise videos will be much like infomercials disseminating a diverse but consistent message regarding healthy hydration. Each contestant will compete, by getting the most online views of their health education awareness video. Contestants are encouraged to use social media like Facebook, My Space or Twitter to solicit viewers. Viewers or voters can be anyone with a valid email address anywhere in the world. The three (3) contestants getting the greatest number of views, in excess of five (500) hundred views will win a $500 Visa Card. The first ten applicants will receive a $25 Visa Card.

WISR Student, Gabriela Hofmeyer, Awarded a 2017 NADC/California Arts Council Grant for Disabled Artists


One of our WISR students, Gabriela Hofmeyer, has been awarded a 2017 NADC/California Arts Council Grant for Disabled Artists for her proposed Community Outreach Expressive Arts & Trauma Awareness and Recovery Projects. The statewide award is to support Community Outreach Projects and Awareness Programs by Disabled Artists in California, sponsored by the National Arts and Disability Center, the California Arts Council and the Semel Institute, UCLA.

One of Gabriela’s pieces, “Quatre Bleu se Violacer” was selected for the LymeLight Foundation Annual Fundraiser Gala, Dart for Art at the San Mateo Event Center, March 24. The Foundation raises funds and awareness for children and families affected by Lyme disease, and to raise awareness about Lyme disease and Chronic Illness.

Longtime WISR Board Chair, Robert Blackburn Passes Away

In Memoriam: Dr. Robert Blackburn, served as a Board member for over 30 years. WISR was blessed with his wise council, his unequaled and loving sense of humor, and his unwavering commitment to social and racial justice and to quality learner-centered education. He passed away, September 11, 2016. 

WISR President, John Bilorusky shares some of his recollections of Bob:  “Bob served on WISR’s Board for many, many years, going back to the 1980s (for over 30 of WISR’s 41 years) until he had to retire a year or two ago, for health reasons.  During much of that time, he served as Chair of WISR’s Board.  Bob also served on a number of dissertation committees and was often available to have advising consultations with students.  Beyond this, we often called on him to lead and facilitate all school gatherings and sessions of our annual conferences–because Bob always did this with a joyful, uplifting and non-pretentious sense of humor, and with a very down-to-earth grace.  We had one Board meeting (near Halloween) when walked through the door to our Board meeting dressed as a Cardinal, right out of the Vatican.  Another time, when he was participating in the Graduation Review Board of Richard Allen, he sat down at the conference table, with an old style briefcase (hard cover, luggage type) in his hand.  He dramatically sat the briefcase on the table and clicked open the lid of the briefcase.  He pulled out a big linen napkin and wrapped it around his neck, then he pulled out Richard thick dissertation and placed it on the table, and finally, he reached into the brief case and pulled out a very big carving fork and knife.  He rubbed the knife and fork together and said:  “Now, let’s carve this sucker up!”  And as was so often the case when in Bob’s presence, we all laughed, felt really good about ourselves and about life, and then we proceeded to have a wonderful and collegial discussion of Richard’s outstanding dissertation.  Bob knew how to live life fully, and I imagine he, more than most of us, always appreciated life.  In 1973, when the Symbionese Liberation Army murdered African American Oakland School Superintendent, Marcus Foster, Bob (who was Marcus Foster’s Deputy Superintendent and close friend) was nearly killed–many more than a dozen bullets went in and through his body.  He once told me of an “out of body/near death” experience he had on the surgery table.  He survived, and the world and so many of us, have been blessed that he went on to live for more than another 40 years.  I know I have lived my life better because of my good fortune to have associated with Bob for so many years.”

Robert Blackburn earned his PhD in Leadership in Higher Education, at the Union Graduate School (1984), the MA in Intergroup Relations, Wharton School, University of Pennsylvania (1964), and his AB, in Sociology and Education from Oberlin College (1957). He went to high school in Roslyn, New York and at the Texas Military Institute, San Antonio. Bob’s work history included civil rights, school improvement and citizen action, regional director for the Peace Corps in Somalia, central office leadership in the Philadelphia public schools, Deputy and Superintendent for the Oakland Public Schools, Professor and Chair, and Department of Educational Leadership and Administration, Cal State East Bay. He held Board memberships in various professional and civic organizations in Philadelphia and Oakland, and served on the California Attorney General’s Commission on Hate Crimes. He provided extensive mentoring and coaching for Oakland school principals through the Principal Leadership Institute of the University of California at Berkeley and Cal State.


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