Archive for Thursday, June 17, 2004

Longtime KU educator blazed nontraditional trail

June 17, 2004


The woman who first recognized the needs of nontraditional students at Kansas University, Vivian Alicia Rogers, spent much of her life studying the various stages of adulthood. While director of the student services division of KU Continuing Education, she founded Kansas University's Adult Life Resource Center, which was hailed as a pioneer of putting adult development theories into practice.

Rogers died Monday at her home in West Hartford, Conn. She was 84.

Through her 19 years of service at Kansas University, Rogers created programs based on life tasks. Rogers concluded, through extensive study, that transition periods and change are OK.

"For many years the simple view persisted that at 21 we become rational and wise and we remain that way for another half-century," Rogers, then known as Vivian McCoy, told the Journal-World in October 1981. "While children changed, adults only aged. Fortunately that view has been replaced by another, which views adulthood as a period of active and systematic change over the lifetime."

Rogers countered barriers to older students. She herself was in school at unconventional periods in her life.

Rogers earned a bachelor's degree in economics and sociology from Albertus Magnus College in 1941 and a master's degree in international relations from the University of Chicago in 1949. In 1973, she received a master's degree in counseling from Kansas University.

At age 53 and while still working, Rogers commuted for two years to Kansas State University, where she earned her doctorate in adult education and development in 1975.

"She always felt she needed those credentials, said Robert Senecal, who retired as dean of Continuing Education at KU in 2001. "Not only for herself, but to set an example for others who returned to college later in their lives."

As a testament to her research, Rogers transitioned to several disparate job duties throughout her life.

She began as a reporter for her hometown newspaper in Connecticut and switched to studying economics at the University of Chicago.

Later a social worker, Rogers then became a teacher.

She took a tour of duty as an officer in the first class of women to be commissioned in the U.S. Marine Corps during World War II. Then she went back to school.

At 65, she took a position as director of the Center for Continuing Education for Women at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor.

Rogers was inducted into the KU Women's Hall of Fame in 1980.

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