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We Are Knox...

Gene Binder '56

Founder, College Assistance Migrant Program

Consultant, Target Stores, Inc.

2007 Alumni Achievement Award Winner

There is little doubt that a socioeconomic achievement gap exists in the
American education system, but thanks to the efforts of Gene Binder '56,
this gap is a little bit smaller. Binder has spent more than 30 years working in
Texas private and public higher education institutions, with a particular focus on increasing access to higher education for high-risk youth.

While pursuing master of arts and doctor of education degrees at Washington State University, Binder engaged in educational work with Hispanic, African, and Native American students from migrant and seasonal farm worker families. Due to the success of this work and his doctoral research, he received an unsolicited $500,000 postsecondary educational award from the U.S. Department of Economic Opportunity in 1971. This award was to be used to design a College Assistance Migrant Program (CAMP).

"At this period of time in U.S. education history, there was no record of a migrant or farm worker child ever graduating from college," says Binder. His work changed this.

He selected St. Edwards University in Austin, Texas, from a list of 51 college and university applicants to host the program. The first 100 CAMP freshman students enrolled at St. Edwards University in fall of 1972. By 1978, the CAMP experiment was hugely successful, and the program was expanded to eight additional university campuses, officially recognized by the U.S. Congress, and moved with line item budget authority to the U.S. Department of Education. By 2007, CAMP had spread to 47 university and college campuses, accepting 2,400 freshman migrant students each year, with an annual federal budget exceeding $17,000,000.

In addition to his work with CAMP, Binder has served as a special assistant for education programs to Texas Governor Mark White and authored numerous publications. He implemented and directed a statewide network of in-school youth programs for high risk students and high school dropouts. These programs have been placed on more than 20 Texas university and college campuses and in numerous Texas parks and wildlife areas, serving more than 20,000 participants. As a consultant for Target Stores, Inc., he also designed and implemented a private sector work study program model for financially needy college students to work one year in Target stores throughout Texas.

In 2007, Binder received an Alumni Achievement Award for his work in higher education. When asked which of his many accomplishments he feels is most notable, he states that it is designing CAMP. "In the 34 years since its inception, CAMP has opened the doors to thousands of migrant children who have become community leaders that represent a professional spectrum, including bilingual educational specialists, accountants, doctors, nurses, lawyers, legislators, teachers, psychologists, social workers, and professional business partners and operators."

Read a Q&A with Binder in the Spring 2007 Knox Magazine.

Read the presentation of Binder's 2007 Alumni Achievement Award by Megan Clayton, Coordinator of Fifty Year Club Activities.