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James Kandrac, founder and CEO of UCG Technologies

Dynamic New Board Members Join RIFI
The Reason, Individualism, Freedom Institute 
Welcomes New Board Members As Part of Growth

Chicago, IL (September 10, 2017) RIF Institute is excited to announce the enhancement of its higher education work by the addition of James Kandrac and Sable Levy to its Board of Trustees, and Malachy Walsh and Mimi Gladstein to its Advisory Board as part of its plan to expand to a new, 9-month Gap Year program.

Board of Trustees

James Kandrac, founder and CEO of UCG TechnologiesJim Kandrac, founder and CEO of UCG Technologies, has helped RIF Institute’s Great Connections Seminar ever since he attended a weekend program in 2010.

He found us while looking for a Montessori college for his daughters. (The Great Connections program is based on the Montessori philosophy of education as applied to the young adult level of development.) Two years ago he talked to the students about his life and career, and spoke about the issues on this video, detailing the problems he sees in education and how The Great Connections solves them.

Jim has been actively involved in student programs in his hometown area of Cleveland-Brecksville-Broadview Heights, Ohio for many years and plans to tap into his connections to benefit our program. He brings great energy, ideas, and  to our organization as it is on the cusp of creating new, expanded programming.

Jim says: “I am pleased to join the RIFI board because I want to contribute by making a positive impact on the lives of young men and women.

“Being an entrepreneur and business owner for 30 years, I have seen a significant decline in the preparedness and quality of students coming out of universities. College seems to have become an extension of high school. Most students learn once they get out into the “real world” because they have not been challenged to think creatively for themselves and solve problems. They are force fed what to think and believe.

“I have attended the RIFI adult program and enjoyed participating and presenting at the RIFI summer program for young adults in Chicago. I have witnessed first hand how, in just one week, the curriculum has enlightened students to be much better prepared for life. I am very excited to start working with Marsha and the board in developing and bringing to fruition the RIFI nine-month Gap program for high school and college students.”

Sable Levy, member of The Levy Family Foundation and Socratic Sable Levy, member of The Levy Family Foundation and Socratic Sable LevyProgrammer for the Texas Millennial InstituteProgrammer for the Texas Millennial Institute, adds her deep love of our program to her incisive insights about the Millennial mind—both of which benefit our efforts. Sable first attended The Great Connections as a student in 2012, where she found it a life-transforming experience. Today she is completing her degree in Actuarial Science at St. Edward’s University in Austin, TX.

“The Great Connections Seminar has profoundly enriched my life over the past five years. It’s an honor to now be a part of the RIFI board and to help share the tools of intellectual independence with ever-greater numbers of students.”

Murray I. Franck, J.D. (1943-2017)

As we welcome these dynamic new trustees, we mourn the passing of our Founding Trustee, Murray I. Franck, J.D. this year. Murray served as a wise intellectual and legal counsel to RIFI since its creation in 2005. An expert on intellectual property and a writer on the philosophy of law and ethics, he had been the head of Patents and Trademarks of Revlon Corporation, and had taught law at Baruch College, New York, NY before his retirement. We miss him terribly!

Board of Advisors

Mimi Gladstein, Ph.D., professor of English and Theater Arts at the University of Texas, El PasoMimi Gladstein, Ph.D., is a professor of English and Theater Arts at the University of Texas, El Paso. Among her many accomplishments, she is the author of five books, four on Ayn Rand, and co-editor of two. One of her co-edited books, The Last Supper of Chicano Heroes: Selected Works of José Antonio Burciaga, which won an American Book Award, a Southwest Book Award, and a Latino Book Award. She has received international recognition, including the John J. and Angeline Pruis Award, for teaching Steinbeck and the Burkhardt Award for Steinbeck scholarship. Gladstein’s scholarly articles cover subjects as diverse as feminism in the Harry Potter series and bilingual wordplay in Hemingway and Steinbeck. She has also been recognized as a distinguished teacher for her service to students.

“I joined the RIFI board because I believe in its mission of educating our young people to use reason. It is more important than ever in contrast to the claptrap of emotion and the perversion of self-esteem promoted in the public schools. The future of our country depends on it.”

Malachy Walsh, retired Madman, brings us his decades of experience asMalachy Walsh, retired Madman, brings us his decades of experience as Creative Director at J. Walter ThompsonCreative Director at J. Walter Thompson which included such campaigns as “The Few, the Proud, the Marines” and Tony the Tiger’s “That’s grrreat!” He combines this expertise with his deep love of the Great Books classics and brings it all to bear on The Great Connections. In addition to teaching our students how to write like professionals, Malachy led a branding session for us in May where we discovered some keys to the marketing of The Great Connections. We’re now putting those discoveries into place.

“I welcomed a lifetime in advertising because it embodies the American promise that life can be better.

“I welcomed a lifelong commitment to Great Books education because I believe that a better life comes from the better thinking of Reason, from the unique gifts and creativity of Individuals, and from the Freedom to forward those ideals.

“I now welcome the opportunity to serve with Great Connections, so I can work with likeminded people who want to leave the world a bit better than we found it.

“As an ad guy from the wonders-never-cease world of Cheez Whiz and ‘Isn’t it amazing!’, I also hope I can contribute a sense of fun and self discovery to our projects.

“Thank you for making me feel welcome.”

Please keep a look-out for our upcoming news about the Gap Year Program! If you are interested in learning more, please call or write to us at 773-677-6418 or menright@rifinst.org. Thank you for your interest!

What happened at The Great Connections 2016


The Outcome of The Great Connections Seminar 
2016

This July, our high school-to-graduate school students hailed from places such as Guatemala, Argentina, Brazil, Honduras, Nepal and all directions of the U.S. Over half were returnees who paid their own way—one from Buenos Aires!

Six came to study how to be a teacher in our style, so they could take that skill back to their classrooms and organizations where they live.

For this purpose, I created a two-day Great Connections Training Program for Teachers and conducted it before the week started. I’m now being asked to conduct a class for teachers at Universidad Francisco Marroquin in Guatemala.

We added a new component to the instruction this year, a 5-day writing class. Malachy Walsh, former creative director for J. Walter Thompson Worldwide, was our instructor and he brought all of his knowledge and world-tested skill in excellent communication to the program.

Before he worked in advertising, Malachy studied literature and philosophy at the University of Chicago under the Aristotle scholar and member of the committee that created The Great Books, Richard McKeon. His love of these books was nothing but strengthened over the years by the advantages they gave him in advertising and marketing—his co-workers would marvel at how he solved certain problems. He knew it was from incorporating the principles of Aristotle’s Rhetoric into his thinking!

Malachy used the Rhetoric for our class this summer—and he was deeply impressed with how quickly our students were able to work together to produce excellent solutions to the writing problems he posed to them.

He went out of his way to comment to me about something else that impressed him: arriving early every morning, he would listen to our daily faculty meetings. At these, my instructors and trainees would review the performance of the students from the previous day and analyze what went well, what needed improvement, and what each student needed to optimize his or her experience. Then we would figure out what changes we needed to make that day to help students have the best experience possible.

He remarked that he saw how this review and revision resulted in better classes every day. Bottom line: this careful work is part of the reason we have consistent, remarkable outcomes after one week of classes.

For example, Saulo Maciel, a junior in Journalism from Campo Grande Brasil, declared “I learned more in one week than in ten years at school.”

Our students are ambitious to live well and spread reason, individualism, and freedom through their projects and careers. That includes their personal choices, the way they run the companies they plan to create, their work as journalists, musicians, computer programmers, or their academic teaching careers. We’re preparing a kind of professor different from the indoctrinating collectivists that rule most of the Academy today.

You can see these ambitions in some of the comments which are below. Unlike their experience at traditional school, they relished spending an entire week studying and discussing very difficult readings at least six hours a day, more than double the usual college class-day hours.

I hope you’ve had a chance to see the short videos we had made last year, now on www.rifinst.org homepage. You can hear the students, assistant instructors, and interested professionals recount the immense intellectual and practical value in our program.

Student by student, we transform lives, and these students go back to the world, empowered to turn the tide away from collectivism and towards reason, individualism, and freedom.

You are making all this happen. Our enduring thanks for your generous and important support through your contribution this year. Your gift and others enabled us to offer some travel aid this year, allowing Saurav Ghimire and Saulo Maciel to attend the program from Nepal and Brazil respectively. Each is taking back what they learned to teach others in their countries.

I hope you feel free to contact me any time about the program – or anything else for that matter!

Warmest regards,

Marsha Familaro Enright
President

P.S. Why do we get so many returnees? Because the program powerfully prepares students to find, choose and succeed in their life path. They don’t get this help at school, so they return to refresh and expand their knowledge.Imagine how helpful this is to students (and their parents) who attend before investing tens to hundreds of thousands of dollars at colleges?

 

What Students Said About The Great Connections, 2016

Rene Miguel

“It allows you to think outside the box. This is something that  school does not teach and if I want to get ahead of the game, it is a  must.”—Rene Miguel, Junior, Business, Loyola University, Chicago, Illinois

Ian Mihura

 

“The Great Connections is an intense experience that helps people to learn how to learn rather than what to learn. I plan to implement the group discussion methodology in the office with my co-workers.”
—Ian Mihura (center), Junior, Computer Science, Universidad de Buenos Aires, Argentina

Great Connections Students “It changed my perspective about several essential topics  about life. –Maria Jose Bernal, Senior, ColegioGimnasio  Los Pinares,  Medillin, Colombia

 

I have never been in a classroom where students wanted to stay after the session had ended. I have never learned so much or so well in my life, andScott McGinley that is saying something, given my love for my university experience at George Mason. But you have shown a way for me to tap into a completely different aspect of learning—about the liberal arts and about myself—that likely would have escaped me had I not committed to attending this seminar. My only regret is that I haven’t gone since the first time you invited me in 2014!”—Scott McGinley, Junior, Economics, George Mason University, Washington, DC

Madison Ross“The Great Connections seminar gave me tools for communicating I’ve never encountered before. It encouraged me to be aware of ideas in a new way. Before I went, I liked ideas but now I am more confident I can understand and talk about them. I was taught to speak so my ideas can be understood.”– Madison Ross, Junior, Mathematics, Rochester Institute of Technology, Rochester, New York

Nora Gibes “Before coming, I was frustrated because I was not learning  enough in my studies; I was only working just enough to get  decent grades. As a result, I was not enjoying school. The  Seminar renewed my determination to put my all into my  studies. I know now that it is within my power to achieve  my dreams, to help advance the health of humanity through science and innovation.” –Nora Gibes, Freshman, Biochemistry, Hillsdale College, Hillsdale, Michigan

“Life-altering is used much too lightly, much too often. However, when I Sarrah Alisaytheseminar was life-altering, I mean it with the heaviness of a woman who is in awe of her experience. My entire life I have been searching for a way to TRULY understand life––why I’m here and how I can make the most of the time I’m given. My previous reality was that I had neither the resources—such as the inspiring pieces in this seminar—nor the ability to dissect the pieces with people who have a passion to learn and UTILIZE knowledge.”— Sarrah Ali, Senior, Cypress Creek High School, Houston, Texas

Kayla Torquemada  “I truly can say that I have grown intellectually and           spiritually as a person. It has made me see  reason, love,  and individuality from a new  perspective. This experience  is one I will not forget.”–  Kayla Torquemada, junior, physical  therapy, San Jose  State University, Pleasanton, CA

Saurav Ghimire

Now I will be more confident to speak in international platforms, analyzedecisions by the pay off they give, use writing skills learnt and much more.” –Saurav Ghimire, J.D., Katmandu School of Law, Nepal

 

Sable Levy “I feel more aware of the need to stop and listen to my  body, to  reflect, to ground my choices and actions in self-  love and self-  interest; and to reflect on whether I’m  acting congruently with  my values and goals. I feel  more determined to make the  most of my hours  and days. There’s so much I want to do, and every moment counts.”—Sable Levy, Junior, Actuarial Studies, University of Texas at Austin,