One Day U: A Crash Course in Continuing Edification

A Crash Course in Continuing Edification



Remember that College Professor who actually made you want to attend class? No, not the sharpie you had a cliche crush on (not only anyway), but the smartie who could teach you a lesson that would make you swoon. You know, the campus rockstar.


For many of us, the lectures given by the campus rockstar were some of the highest lights of our educational lives; not simply for our proximity to an out-sized personality, mind you, but for what we learned while in such out-sized presence. That’s undoubtedly why untold thousands have been jumping at the chance to deja vu all over again.


We speak of One Day University (ODU), which takes what was great about those halcyon school days, brings it up to date and then let’s us re-experience the magic, in ever newer and exciting ways.


As you undoubtedly suspect, ODU culls its professorial cast from America’s most prestigious institutions, and that cast consists of the best and the brightest the nation has to offer. But it’s the thematic pairing of the astute (lecturers) with the acute (lectures) where ODU really proves its mettle.


In Miami on Saturday that theme is “Rethinking America” and it will pair historian perspective with topical hotness in a manner sure to sate the savage knowledge seeker.


The culprits (and their charges) are Rutgers’ Louis Masur (“Hamilton vs Jefferson: The Rivalry that Shaped America”), Brown’s Rachel Friedberg (“America Immigration: Fear, Myth and Reality”) and Lynn’s Robert Watson (“Our Broken Two Party System: Can American Politics Be Fixed?”).


For anyone with eyes the event will read like writing on the wall; for anyone with ears, it’ll sound like not-so-distant tribal drums; and for anyone with a head on their shoulders and a yen to fill it with the kind of ideas which can change the way we live now, well, you’ve but one question to ask: What time does it all begin?

Tropicult got with One Day University’s Kevin Brennan for some background on the outfit and the event; glean how he filled us in after the jump:



For those who don’t yet know, just what is One Day University?


One Day University brings together the greatest professors from the world’s top schools to present special versions of their very best lectures – LIVE. The professors are rock stars on their campuses and the students are there, not to work toward a degree, but because they just absolutely love learn.


Who (and what) is behind the bright idea?


Steven Schragis founded One Day University in 2006 after dropping his daughter off at Bard College for her freshman year. Bard put together a series of lectures from some of the best professors on campus for the parents of incoming freshman, to give them a taste of what their children would experience. All of the parents shared the same sentiment – I wish I were going to college instead of paying for it. Steven, who was in the conference business thought the idea of fascinating professors teaching students of non-traditional college age might be a good business.


How’d Mr. Schragis manage to turn the notion into a bona fide entity?


Steven came home from Bard and in October 2006, booked a venue in Westchester, NY, booked four superstar professors and took out an ad in the New York Times. It took off immediately. The company went through a bunch of twists and turns and in 2013 landed our first newspaper deal with The Providence Journal. Once that partnership proved successful, we began approaching more papers.  


What’s that entity looking like now?


We now run events in 45+ cities. We work with over 200 professors and will run about 110 – 120 events in 2017 with a full-time staff of six. Attendance varies quite a bit depending on the type of event and the market, but I would say the average is 4-500.


Doesn’t ODU also have a rather extensive network of partnerships it calls upon in every given city?


We have partnerships with 45+ media companies around the country. Most of these are newspapers including The Washington Post, The San Francisco Chronicle, The Miami Herald, etc. In addition to media companies, we have worked with a variety of other partners including The Boston Symphony Orchestra, The Jewish Federation of Greater Philadelphia, New-York Historical Society, and CitiFoundation.


How involved are the partners in a given event’s program?


They are true partners in that we work together to run the events and have a profit sharing arrangement. Some are much more involved than others in that they like to choose the venue and get very involved in the selection of professors. Others are hands-off and just do the marketing.


What part did The Miami Herald play for “Rethinking America” (and how’d ODU come to team with the paper in the first place)?


We have an ongoing partnership with The Miami Herald. We have been working with them for a little over a year and this is our third event. The partnership with The Herald, and with all of our partners, came about because we have an event that really appeals to their core audience – an educated, intellectually curious group of people who find learning not only important, but fun.


C/Would you please elaborate a bit about this Saturday’s program?


One Day University’s signature event consists of four professors teaching four fascinating, but usually unrelated topics. Once we have been in a market with a few of that type of event, we begin to introduce themed days. We have a few that are really popular: The Nature of Genius, 5000 Years of History in Just One Day, and Rethinking America. Rethinking America brings together professors to explore different facets of American life. On Saturday in Miami, those facets are American History, Immigration and the two-party political system.


Isn’t Professor Masur (“Hamilton vs Jefferson”) also conducting a similar Sunday seminar up in Boca Raton?


Yes, that course is “From Washington to Lincoln: The Presidency Emerges.” The courses are similar in that they cover early American History, but differ in content. In Miami the focus is of course on the rivalry between Alexander Hamilton and Thomas Jefferson; in Boca Professor Masur will discuss the office of the President and how it evolved in the early days of the country.


So those seeking extra edification will find two completely different programs?


There will be some overlap, so I don’t want to say COMPLETELY different, but they are two distinct presentations.


All in all, what can “students” expect from their enrolling in One Day University?


“Students” can expect a fast paced, incredibly entertaining day of learning. The professors are there to educate, but the do so in a way that is really fun and engaging. And who knows, you might make some new friends – the events are filled with really amazing people.
The Miami Herald presents One Day University: Rethinking America with Professors Louis Masur (Rutgers), Rachel Friedberg (Brown) and Robert Watson (Lynn). Saturday April 1 9:30am – 1:15pm The Miracle Theatre 280 Miracle Mile Coral Gables. Enter Promo Code TROPICULT and get $50 off the price of admission.