An Interview With Dr. Peter Eden, President of Landmark College

President Eden is trained in molecular biology and worked in the biopharmaceutical industry before moving to higher education as a professor, then a Dean, and now a college president. Dr. Eden’s interests in higher education extend beyond the STEM and discovery research and teaching areas to include novel, effective, and meaningful pedagogical and programmatic approaches to teaching and learning for all students (regardless of neurotypical or neurodivergent status). He became president of Landmark College in 2011.

Landmark College exclusively serves neurodiverse students who learn differently, including students with a learning disability (such as dyslexia), ADHD, or autism, using a strengths-based model to provide students the skills and strategies they need to achieve their college and career goals. A fully accredited, not-for-profit institution, Landmark College offers bachelor’s and associate degrees, as well as a one- or two-semester Bridge Experience, online dual enrollment courses for high school students, and summer programs to assist a wide range of high school and new or transferring college students with learning differences (LD). The College also offers a post-baccalaureate (online) certificate for educators and professionals, related to neurodiversity.

The Landmark College Institute for Research and Training (LCIRT) conducts important discovery research in teaching and learning as related to neurodiversity and LD, and intentionally shares the findings and knowledge with educators around the world through webinars, workshops, publications, conference presentations, summer and winter symposia, professional training and online courses.

While a purposely small institution (about 400 full-time students enrolled each year), the College has served thousands in its history.  Our campus is located in Vermont, but students are from all over the U.S. and the globe, with representation (gender, race, ethnicity, identity, etc.) that, along with neurodiversity, provides a level of inclusion and diversity to the community not found at other colleges and universities.  It is believed that up to 20% of all learners have some diagnosed or undiagnosed LD, and their graduation rates are significantly below the national average (and employment rates for autistic adults are at about an alarming 20%, often because of a lack of higher education options engineered for the way they think and operate).

In 2017, the College established the Center for Neurodiversity, which reaches within and beyond academia to promote the benefits of a neurodiverse society. Social justice is one of the Center’s goals as it works with corporate and educational leaders to advocate for those with LD and to create resources and opportunities for neurodivergent individuals.

What are you most proud of about your company in today’s educational world.

We were the first to, and remain the most open, about serving students with learning differences and challenges related to autism. The College has a carefully engineered social pragmatics program to help autistic students build social and academic skills through its structured, integrated living and learning model.

What do you think is the greatest challenge in education today?

Across higher education, and for small institutions in particular, the realities of a demographic drop in number of high school graduates (thus college-age students; particularly acute in the northeast) have stressed and challenged them.  Landmark College is prepared to remain a smaller, specialized, focused institution yet expand through online modalities (often to high school students with LD and seeking dual enrollment college credit), short-term programs, and partnerships across the U.S. and the world.  The College sees an opportunity to serve students with LD at the end of high school, in gap/transition year programs, and in the first year or two of college, and embolden them to pursue college and career goals, which absent this unique experience they might not think is possible.

What does the term EDUCATIONAL EQUITY mean to you ?

Designing educational models that are not only accessible to all demographic and socioeconomic groups, but to all groups of learners too, i.e. neurodivergent as well as “neurotypical” students.