Richland College Announces Commitment to Expand College Access at White House Event

Richland College president Kathryn K. Eggleston, Ph.D., and Dallas County Community College District chancellor Joe D. May, Ed.D., are joining President Obama, the First Lady, Vice President Biden and hundreds of other college presidents and higher education leaders in Washington, D.C., today to announce new actions to help more students prepare for and graduate from college.

The White House College Opportunity Day of Action will support the President’s commitment to partner with colleges and universities, business leaders and nonprofits to support students across the country to help the nation reach its goal of leading the world in college attainment.

“Richland College is well-positioned to be a part of such an ambitious initiative to assist greater numbers of students in their educational pursuits toward degree completion and well-paying jobs,” said Eggleston.

To be a part of this event, Richland College committed to expanding its Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) Center to reach more than 4,000 students during the next three to five years with proven programs to increase STEM success.

Richland College was able to create the STEM Center by leveraging community partnerships and external resources. Initially partnering with the University of Texas at Dallas as a sub-recipient of a Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics Talent Expansion Program (STEP) grant from the National Science Foundation, Richland College has fully funded its STEM Center to advance STEM-graduate completion.

Richland College’s STEM Center prepares students for work in a competitive science and technology-based economy and establishes well-defined student career pathways. It provides support and guidance to students pursuing STEM careers, with a special emphasis on women and historically underserved populations with fewer resources. STEM advisors provide recruitment of and focus on new-to-college students who indicate a desire to pursue STEM careers. Using this advising process, students identify and follow a clear, direct career pathway with multiple points of advisor contact, mentoring and scholarship opportunities.

“Our STEM advisors and faculty are an invaluable resource to students pursuing STEM degrees,” Eggleston said. “Through them, the students are able to navigate their college experience with greater focus, allowing for a seamless transition to university transfer and excellent job opportunities.”

To attain its goal of reaching more than 4,000 students during the next three to five years, Richland College will establish additional focused career pathway opportunities with universities that include research, design and practice-based experiences. It will also expand its summer Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts and Math (STEAM) Camp designed to serve 8th grade girls in underserved and under-resourced populations in a community partnership with Girls, Inc. The camp is designed and taught by Richland’s STEAM faculty, who are women and minority women, providing role models for young women at a critical age in their aspirational direction.

Participants in the White House College Opportunity Day of Action were asked to commit to new action in one of four areas: building networks of colleges around promoting completion, creating K-16 partnerships around college readiness, investing in high school counselors as part of the First Lady’s Reach Higher initiative or increasing the number of college graduates in the STEM fields.

The President will announce new steps on how his administration is helping to support these actions, including $10 million to help promote college completion and a $30 million AmeriCorps program that will improve low-income students’ access to college. Today’s event is the second College Opportunity Day of Action, and it will include a progress report on the commitments made at the first day of action that took place Jan. 14, 2014.

Expanding opportunity for more students to enroll and succeed in college, especially low-income and underrepresented students, is vital to building a strong economy and a strong middle class. Today, only 9 percent of those born in the lowest family income quartile attain a bachelor’s degree by age 25, as compared to 54 percent in the top quartile. In an effort to expand college access, the Obama Administration has increased Pell scholarships by $1,000 per year, created the new American Opportunity Tax Credit worth up to $10,000 over four years of college, limited student loan payments to 10 percent of income and laid out an ambitious agenda to reduce college costs and promote innovation and completion.