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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 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

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.
Aviva Hollander '23 presents to the NorthEast Regional Computing Program

PAL Student Tutors Present on Learning How to Learn Through Technology

“Metacognition is learning about your learning and what type of learner you are,” said Matt Mariani, a senior software development major, during a webinar where he presented with fellow student Aviva Hollander, a senior sociology major, and Dr. Laura Vanderberg, director and professor in Curry’s Program for Advancement of Learning (PAL). The three gave an invited presentation to the NorthEast Regional Computing Program, a non-profit consortium serving higher education library and IT professionals.
Curry College Seal

Produce, Present & Publish: 2021 Curry Faculty Honors

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Milton, MA

Milton Ranked Safest College Town in America

For the second straight year, Milton, Massachusetts, home of Curry College's Milton Campus, has been ranked 'Safest College Town in America.' The latest 2021 rankings were published by SafeWise in their annual national report on public safety, "Safest Cities in America.” Milton topped the list of over 400 college towns due to lows in violent crime rate and a property crime rate, according to FBI statistics.
Class of 2021 Conclude Extraordinary College Experience in Commencement Celebration

Class of 2021 Conclude Extraordinary College Experience in Commencement Celebration

On a summer-like day, Curry College honored 687 graduates from the Class of 2021 in its 141st Commencement celebration. The ceremony, to which graduates were allowed to invite two guests, was live streamed today from the Walter M. Katz field to approximately 2,300 family members, friends, alumni, faculty and staff among other Curry community members.
Curry College Celebrates the Class of 2020 in Historic In-Person Commencement

Curry College Celebrates the Class of 2020 in Historic In-Person Commencement

Curry College honored 689 graduates from the Class of 2020 in its 140th Commencement celebration on Saturday, May 22, 2021. The ceremony, to which graduates were allowed to invite two guests, was live-streamed from the Walter M. Katz field to approximately 800 family members, friends, alumni, faculty and staff among other Curry community members. The in-person ceremony was especially cherished after a year-plus of adversity and uncertainty stemming from the COVID-19 pandemic, including an unprecedented remote final semester at the College last spring.
Faculty Members Honored with 2020-2021 Excellence in Teaching Awards

Faculty Members Honored with 2020-2021 Excellence in Teaching Awards

The Excellence in Teaching Committee has recognized 13 Curry College faculty members for their accomplishments in a variety of areas during the 2020-2021 academic year, including research, community engagement, partnerships, arts and humanities, collaboration and scholarship in the field.
52nd Annual Awards Day Celebrates the Best of Curry College

52nd Annual Awards Day Celebrates the Best of Curry College

This month, the College honored the best and brightest during its 52nd Annual Curry College Awards Recognition Ceremony, which was held as a week-long social media campaign to honor the amazing accomplishments of the 2020-21 academic year. Beyond excelling in a year like no other, the award-winners were honored for their notable achievements in academics, athletics, arts, service, and social justice.
Culminating Research, Projects Presented at 2021 Academic Forum

Culminating Research, Projects Presented at 2021 Academic Forum

Every spring, Curry College students have the opportunity to present their academic research, creative portfolios, and other culminating projects to the College community including faculty, staff, and fellow students at the annual Academic Forum. This year, the event took place virtually on April 21 and featured nearly 40 student presentations across all majors and stages in the iterative process of discovery and academic inquiry.