WMU brings research university resources to Grand Rapids compact

contact: Cheryl Roland
| WMU News

President Dunn (second from left)

KALAMAZOO, Mich.—A Grand Rapids community initiative to double the rate at which Grand Rapids Public Schools graduates earn college degrees has attracted the commitment of Western Michigan University.

WMU President John M. Dunn was one of seven college and university presidents who traveled to Grand Rapids City Hall Sept. 18 to sign on to a compact known as "To College, Through College." The effort, championed by Grand Rapids Mayor George K. Heartwell, will identify barriers to degree completion and put community resources to work to overcome those barriers.

"At Western Michigan University, we're delighted to bring the essential research university role to this important community effort," said Dunn at the compact signing. "For more than 100 years, we've been providing higher education opportunity to the Grand Rapids community. We're committed to putting our unique set of resources to work to not only enhance the number of Grand Rapids citizens with college credentials but also to ensure that every citizen has the access and support necessary to earn those credentials and fulfill their potential as part of a professional workforce."

Joining Dunn at the signing ceremony were the presidents of Aquinas College, Calvin College, Davenport University, Ferris State University, Grand Rapids Community College and Grand Valley State University.

Together, the presidents pledged to work with the city and the Grand Rapids Public Schools to increase the rate of degree attainment particularly for first-generation college students, low-income, minority and other historically underrepresented populations. The effort begins with students who graduated from GRPS in 2013 and 2014, with the goal over a three-year period to more than double the number of students who earn degrees from the current rate of 18 percent to 40 percent.

Technical assistance for the "To College, Through College" initiative is being provided by the Lumina Foundation and the National League of Cities Post-Secondary Success for Cities and America's Promise. The Lumina Foundation has set a national goal of ensuring that 60 percent of the nation's adults attain an associate degree or higher by 2025.