Excelsior Begins a Common Read Program

In summer 2000, Excelsior College held its first Common Read program, a community-wide shared reading experience. Students, alumni, faculty, and staff were invited to participate in this experience designed to stimulate discussion, encourage different perspectives, and build community.

“When you read books, they bring you to different places, they change you by opening up different experiences and thoughts,” says Cathy Germano, director of learning services at Excelsior College. “That’s what educates you.” Germano was a member of a committee comprising staff members from across the College who planned the first Common Read.

“When you read books, they bring you to different places, they change you by opening up different experiences and thoughts … That’s what educates you.” –Cathy Germano, director of learning services at Excelsior College

For the initial selection, the committee selected “Educated” by Tara Westover. For the next Common Read, planned for early 2021, staff members are planning to survey members of the Excelsior community for their preferred book from a list of options. The selection will be announced in December, and information will be posted on the College’s website at www.excelsior.edu/about/diversity/.

The idea behind the Common Read for Excelsior is that by reading together, participants build connections and strengthen the College community.

“The Common Read program is a great way to foster conversations among all members of the Excelsior College community,” says Catherine Seaver, interim dean of the School of Undergraduate Studies. Seaver initiated the planning for the inaugural Common Read. “Our first book read was a wonderful success and I enjoyed the lively and thoughtful discussions,” she says. “I look forward to the next book and hope that even more members of our community will join us.”

Common Read programs are popular at higher education institutions, K–12 schools, and across communities at the local, city, and state level. The initiative promotes literacy while engaging an entire community in a common reading experience.