October 10, 2012

Scholarship Will Bring ‘Posses’ of Students to Cornell

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Through a new five-year partnership between the College of Arts and Sciences, the Office of Academic Diversity Initiatives and The Posse Foundation, 10 “extraordinary Posse scholars” from urban public high schools in Chicago, Ill., will join the Class of 2017 at Cornell next fall, according to the foundation’s president.Under the arrangement, every year, beginning in the fall of 2013, The Posse Foundation — a leadership diversity program for college students — will send one new “posse” to Cornell. The students –– who represent a variety of ethnic and religious backgrounds –– will be evaluated by the University’s admissions office, which will select students with especially promising academic records and leadership potential to attend Cornell, according to a University press release.Selected students will receive financial aid from Cornell. In order to contribute to the financial aid packages to the students, the College of Arts and Sciences has set a goal to raise $5 million through its “Cornell Now” campaign.Deborah Bial, president and founder of the Posse Foundation, called the efforts of Cornell administrators to help the foundation’s initiative “beautiful.”“Cornell is such a phenomenal institution, and the opportunities to become part of the Cornell community and to sit in classrooms that are taught by Cornell faculty is just a phenomenal opportunity for these scholars,” Bial said. “As much as these scholars are bringing to Cornell, Cornell is giving back to these scholars.”After being accepted to the program, which will select its first cohort of students in December, students will attend a mandatory eight-month program in Chicago from January until August to be prepared socially and academically for Cornell. According to Bial, at the 44 universities in the U.S. where the Posse Foundation is active, the graduation rate of its students is about 90 percent. Additionally, 70 percent of Posse scholars hold leadership positions during their undergraduate careers, she said.Bial said she hopes the Posse scholars chosen to attend Cornell will have a similar impact at the University by becoming involved with many activities around campus. Once on campus, the students’ diverse backgrounds will also strengthen their sense of belonging at Cornell, Bial added.During their time at the University, Posse students will also be active on campus by participating in events open to the entire Cornell community, such as the foundation’s annual PossePlus Retreat. At the retreat, 100 people — Posse scholars and members of the Cornell community — attend a discussion about pressing social issues over a three-day weekend , according to Bial.Cornell administrators said that the partnership between Cornell and the foundation will enrich the campus by upholding values that are important to the University.“Cornell’s partnership with the Posse Foundation is a natural fit, because our long-standing commitment to educational access, diversity and outreach aligns perfectly with their mission,” President Skorton said in a University press release. “We look forward to welcoming the first posse to campus in Fall 2013.”Meanwhile, the Posse founders say that the partnership will allow highly motivated and diverse students to contribute positively to the Cornell community in both academic and social ways.“I think Posse scholars are a lot like Cornell students … They are very engaged students, just the same way that Cornell students are,” Bial said. “You’re going to see them engaged in every part of the campus.”

Original Author: Lauren Avery