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Web Exclusives: Alumni Spotlight

February 23, 2005

Michael Shannon ’57

Michael Shannon ’57, left, is studying for a doctorate in education, and Albert Beveridge ’57 for a Ph.D. in history. (Chris Taggart/Courtesy Albert Beveridge ’57)

Retire? Nah
Michael J. Shannon ’57 and Albert J. Beveridge III ’57 head back to school for advanced degrees

When it comes to retirement, some polish their golf games while others resurrect neglected hobbies. Not classmates Michael J. Shannon ’57 and Albert J. Beveridge III ’57. They decided to hit the books and earn advanced degrees.

Shannon, an industrial designer who switched to educational consulting in the mid-1980s, is doing field work for his doctoral thesis on adult learning in the Department of Organization and Leadership at Teachers College, Columbia University. Beveridge is in the third year of a doctoral program at Johns Hopkins, retooling his legal skills into those of a historian.

Is it tough to be the oldest kid in the class? Both 69-year-olds say they’re over it — there’s too much work to do.

An architecture major at Princeton, Shannon went back to school in 1989 to pursue a deeper understanding of educational philosophy and strengthen his credentials as an educational consultant. He took a long time to get through the coursework for his doctorate in education (Ed.D.). While studying how people participate in civic affairs and what motivates civic engagement, he was busy starting up a community foundation in Englewood, N.J., where he lives. He founded it in 1989, he says, to build bridges and relationships between different ethnic groups.

Now he is working with Englewood’s mayor to create a citizens’ council that will implement programs aimed at building cohesiveness — and Shannon will use it as a case study for his dissertation. “We may have something replicable,” he says. “My dream is to have Englewood be a learning society where everyone is a teacher and a learner.” With Ed.D. in hand, Shannon hopes to add professional clout to his efforts.

Beveridge was motivated to get another degree by two factors: his lifelong fascination with history and his fear that he would fritter away time without another major challenge.

Founding partner of a Washington, D.C., firm, Beveridge & Diamond, which specializes in environmental law, Beveridge has at least another year of classes before he can focus on his dissertation. He plans to look at the influence of business on public policy. Businesses, he says, have changed their attitudes toward government. “U.S. business decided it was smarter to cooperate rather than fight Washington,” says Beveridge, who majored in modern languages and literatures at Princeton. “When and how that [shift] happened and whether the situation still prevails are the questions I want to address.” Beveridge, who says he reads two to four academic books per week, hopes to teach after earning his degree, possibly as an adjunct professor.

Shannon and Beveridge can’t say if they’ll make it to their 48th reunion this year — a lot depends on how much homework they have.

By Maria LoBiondo

Maria LoBiondo is an occasional contributor to PAW.