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PAL 50 Years Logo

Celebrating 50 Years of Changing Students' Lives!

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PAL values every mind and is a program to serve every learner. When PAL was established in 1970, it anchored more than an educational pedagogy; it created a first of its kind program for learning differences to empower each student to reach their maximum potential. As we approach our fiftieth anniversary, we invite you to join us to celebrate our past and more importantly, make meaningful strides forward, markedly expanding access and affordability to ensure a bright future for PAL.

If you are interested in supporting PAL and its impact on students, please contact Liz Matson at 617-333-2327 or

A Brief History of PAL

Dr. Gertrude M. Webb


Dr. Gertrude M. Webb, a native Bostonian who a year before had been appointed to a Lectureship in Education at the College, launches an innovative program that matches students with language learning differences (at one time the term was language “disabilities”) with special faculty mentors for tutoring and support; it would become the Program for Advancement of Learning, or PAL. At the same time, students were also mainstreamed into their regular College courses.

The American Flag


The College marks the 20th anniversary of the launch of PAL with a celebration at the John Fitzgerald Kennedy Library and Museum in Boston.

Dr. Gertrude W. Webb. and Dr. Lisa Ijiri


In a major faculty appointment in 1993, and after a nationwide search, Dr. Lisa Ijiri, a learning disabilities specialist at Barat College in Illinois, is selected as the replacement for the retired Dr. Gertrude W. Webb. (Dr. Webb said of her hiring that “Lisa Ijiri is like a breath of fresh air.”)

The Massachusetts State House


PAL celebrates its 25th anniversary at the Massachusetts State House, and Governor William Weld proclaims September 29, 1995 “Curry College Day.”

Donna Cataldo Bronson and Kenneth K. Quigley, Jr.


Professor Donna Cataldo Bronson of PAL retires in May of 2009. As Coordinator of PAL from 1973 to 1992, she worked hand in hand with Dr. Gertrude Webb, providing administrative support to students and faculty alike.

Changing Lives through Metacognitive Relationships: LD/ADHD and College Success


Dean Lisa Ijiri and Professor Laurie Fox edit the book, Changing Lives through Metacognitive Relationships: LD/ADHD and College Success, as part of the celebration of the 40th anniversary of PAL. At the same time, Dr. Joseph Cullen is welcomed to Curry, following a national search, as the new Director.

Dr. Laura Vanderberg teaches a student in the Webb Learning Center


Dr. Laura Vanderberg becomes Director of the PAL program, bringing with her 15 years of experience designing curriculum and implementing educational program evaluations for various types of learners in settings both inside and outside the classroom.

College Magazine names Curry College on its Top 10 Best Colleges List for students with learning disabilities.


College Magazine names Curry College on its Top 10 Best Colleges List for students with learning disabilities.

Dr. Laura Vanderberg


Director and Professor Dr. Laura Vanderberg is selected for the Apple Distinguished Educators (ADE) award for her pioneering innovations in the iPAL Program. Apple’s iPads are used as the shared platform for iPAL’s assistive technology curriculum, which features students as co-owners of the curriculum, evaluation, and pedagogy. This represents a very different model from traditional higher education.

Dr. Laura Vanderberg

Learning Differently: Q & A with Dr. Laura Vanderberg

2020 marks the 50th anniversary of the Program for Advancement of Learning (PAL) at Curry College. PAL Director Dr. Laura Vanderberg shares her passion for supporting students with learning differences, what inspires her work, and how she continues to adopt the legacy of Dr. Gertrude M. Webb.

Karina Murcia '20

Meet Karina Murcia '20, PAL

“Honestly, with PAL here at Curry, I have confidence and I feel like I am supported. I am part of a sports team and a club, I’m able to do things that I was never able to do in college before. I feel like the hard work and good grades that PAL has helped me to achieve is my way of saying ‘thank you’ to my parents and others who have helped me. For me, PAL is a game changer that is unquestionably setting me up for the rest of my life.”

Meet Karina Murcia (Class of 2020)

Highlights in PAL

Jay Gonzalez at the Podium during his Inauguration

Curry College to be First in Massachusetts to Offer Job Guarantee

President Jay Gonzalez announced at his Inauguration this afternoon that Curry College will be the first college in Massachusetts to offer a job guarantee program, called The Curry Commitment, beginning with the current freshmen Class of 2027.
Curry College Seal

Curry College Faculty Accomplishments Summer/Fall 2023

The cherished members of the Curry College faculty are known for their tireless dedication and support to our students - but they are also leading scholars, scientists, artists, and trailblazers in their respective fields. See their many accomplishments from this past summer and fall.
Jay Gonzalez, 15th President of Curry College

Jay Gonzalez Appointed as President of Curry College

Curry College’s Board of Trustees announced the appointment of Jay Gonzalez as the College’s 15th president. The board’s unanimous decision was the culmination of a thoughtful and thorough search process that was conducted over the past eight months. Gonzalez has a deep breadth of experience in the law, government, education, politics, advocacy, and business leadership.
Faculty pose at 2022 Convocation

Present, Publish, and Produce: Spring 2023 Faculty Accomplishments

Curry faculty are dedicated educators and caring mentors to students as well as leading scholars, scientists, artists, and trailblazers in their disciplines. They are regularly published in notable academic publications, quoted as experts in the media, and applauded among peers at prestigious industry conferences.
Emma Keyes Poses Next to Dr. Nicole Parsons with PAL Award

Emma Keyes ’23 Stands Up for Neurodivergent Injustice with Self-Published Novel

Emma Keyes was tired of hearing the “Hollywood version” of Autism and thought the world deserved a genuine one. As a compassionate, caring, and motivated young woman, and also one living with Autism, she decided to do just that by self-publishing her first novel, entitled "Through My Eyes: A Different Perspective."
New Curry College Faculty, 2022-2023

Welcome New Faculty! 2022-2023

The Curry College community welcomes our newest faculty members to campus for the 2022-2023 academic year. They are enthusiastic and ready to empower our students to excel, dedicating themselves to success inside and outside the classroom.
Colleen Myers ’08, MSN ’22, and her son Andrew Myers ’22

Mother and Son: A Graduation Story 26 Years in the Making

Years of hard work, determination, and love led Colleen Myers ’08, MSN ’22, and her son Andrew Myers ’22 to be two of the 661 students who walked across the stage at Curry’s 2022 Commencement. Andrew received his bachelor’s in communication with honors and his mother Colleen earned her master’s in nursing.
The Department of Natural Sciences and Mathematics awarded Person of the Year for 2021-2022

53rd Annual Awards Recognition Ceremony Celebrates the Best of Curry College

Curry College honored the best and brightest during its 53rd Annual Awards Recognition Celebration. Over 60 awards were bestowed upon deserving recipients, highlighting the amazing feats achieved in academics, student life, the arts, and athletics.
Top 21 Stories of 2021 Collage

Year in Review: Our Top 21 News Stories in 2021

The Curry College community rallied together in 2021 to accomplish great things and make this year memorable despite the continuing pandemic. As we look forward to 2022, here are the top 21 stories from another unforgettable year.