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PAL 50 Years Logo

Celebrating 50 Years of Changing Students' Lives!

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 would like to be involved with PAL’s 50th anniversary event planning and outreach, as a parent or as an alumni,  please contact Michelle McLaughlin at 617-333-2188 or michelle.mclaughlin@curry.edu.

If you are interested in supporting PAL and its impact on students, please contact Sally Murray at 617-333-2929 or sally.murray@curry.edu.

A Brief History of PAL

Dr. Gertrude M. Webb

1970

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

1990

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

1992

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

1995

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.

2009

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

2010

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

2015

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.

2018

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

Dr. Laura Vanderberg

2019

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

Virtual Awards Celebration Recognizes the Best of Curry College

Virtual Awards Celebration Recognizes the Best of Curry College

This year, the 51st Annual Curry College Awards Recognition Ceremony was held as a two-week social media campaign to honor the amazing accomplishments of the 2019-20 academic year. The annual awards recognized students for contributions to the College, including notable achievements in academics, athletics, arts, service, and social justice. In the multimedia series #CurryCollege2020awards, award winners were described as a “pinnacle of academic excellence,” and praised for “always going beyond the assignment.”
Curry College Faculty 2019 - 2020

Ten Faculty Members Honored With 2019-2020 Excellence in Teaching Awards

The Excellence in Teaching Committee at Curry has recognized several faculty members at the College for their accomplishments in a variety of areas including research, community engagement, and partnerships and collaboration.
Curry Ranked in College Consensus’ Top 30 Best Colleges for Students with Learning Disabilities

Curry Ranked in College Consensus’ Top 30 Best Colleges for Students with Learning Disabilities

This week, the College Consensus ranked Curry’s Program for Advancement of Learning in the top 30 “Best Colleges for Students with Learning Disabilities.” Curry is ranked 24th in the national ranking, which includes other notable institutions such as the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, University of Connecticut, Northeastern University, American University, and DePaul University.
Dr. Laura Vanderberg, Director of the Curry College Program for Advancement of Learning (PAL)

Dr. Laura Vanderberg Attends Apple's Distinguished Educator Institute

Dr. Laura Vanderberg, who was selected as an Apple Distinguished Educator (ADE) for her pioneering work leading the school’s innovative iPAL program, recently attended the ADE Institute for the Americas in Bethesda, Maryland.
Dr. Laura Vanderberg works with a Curry College PAL student

Dr. Laura Vanderberg Receives Distinguished Educator Award for Innovative iPAL Program

Program of Advancement of Learning (PAL) Director and Professor Dr. Laura Vanderberg has been selected for the Apple Distinguished Educators (ADE) award for her pioneering innovations in the iPAL Program.
Dr. Laurie Fox

PAL Experts Share Insights in Book Review and at Harvard Research Conference

Dr. Laurie Fox, Program for Advancement of Learning (PAL) Professor, published a book review in the Fall 2018 issue of The Educational Therapist, 39(2), 22-23.
PAL Professor Dr. Laurie Fox and Mathematics Professor Dr. Jennifer McNally

PAL and Math Professors Collaborate on College-Level Learning Research

Dr. Laurie Fox and Dr. Jennifer McNally recently completed a mixed methods research study, "The Professor-Student Learning Relationship in Higher Education: Wisdom from Students with Learning Disabilities."
PAl students pose outside the Curry College Gertrude M. Webb Learning Center.

College Magazine names Curry on Top 10 Best Colleges List for Students with Learning Disabilities

College Magazine recently named Curry College on its Top 10 Best Colleges List for students with learning disabilities. The article references that "while 86 percent of colleges enroll students with learning disabilities, only 24 percent of them say they can actually help those students "to a major extent."
PAL Director Dr. Laura Vanderberg receives warm welcome in Mumbai.

PAL Faculty Share Expertise at Learning Differences Workshop in India

Curry College representatives recently embarked on a cross-cultural expedition, more than 7,600 miles away in Mumbai, India. The Next Genius Foundation asked Curry experts to come to India and provide education on learning differences, educational options, and practical techniques.