December 4, 2014

Cornell to Reveal Plans to Increase Number of College Graduates at D.C. Summit

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The University is expected to participate in a White House summit in Washington, D.C. Thursday, where it will highlight plans to increase the number of college graduates and parity in science, technology, engineering and math fields, according to documents obtained by The Sun.

President Barack Obama, Vice President Joe Biden, First Lady Michelle Obama and leaders in education are expected to announce over 600 actions at the second White House College Opportunity Day of Action Thursday with the hopes of increasing the number of students who prepare for and ultimately attend college across the country, according to a statement from The White House.

“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,” a White House statement says. “President Obama believes that the United States should lead the world in college attainment, as it did a generation ago.”

Barbara Knuth, vice provost and dean of the Graduate School, will represent Cornell at the summit, according to Kathleen Corcoran, a representative for Cornell’s Media Relations Office.

University officials informed with the specifics of Cornell’s proposals could not be reached for comment at the time of publication.

According to documents from The White House, universities and organizations participating in the Day of Action will announce plans in one of four areas: increasing college completion rates, creating “K-16 partnerships” to prepare students for college, backing high school guidance counselors and increasing the number of graduates in STEM fields.

Cornell’s proposed plans seek to fulfill two of those requirements: increasing the number of college graduates and increasing STEM field “equity across all demographic groups.”

The University, according to the documents, will collaborate with New York 4-H — a development program that works with the Cornell Cooperative Extension — “in efforts to double the number [of] high-achieving, low-income, first generation rural youth in fully engaged and impactful institutional experiences.”

Through what are said to be new programs, Cornell will increase its outreach to 180,000 4-H youth with “messages and activities to keep them on track for collegiate participation,” with the hopes of creating an additional 2,000 college graduates by 2020, according to the documents.

The plan anticipates that 2,000 students will be admitted into college with an additional 800 college matriculants transferring into other colleges. Based on information from the plan, it is not clear if the students will be exclusively from New York State.

Cornell expects that over the course of four years, 1,200 students from the program will attend Cornell; while 200 of those students will be admitted through regular admissions each year, 100 will be admitted as transfer students annually.

“Those who transfer into Cornell will begin their advising at the pre-transfer sending institution to ensure readiness to participate fully in at least two engaged high-impact practices of research, off-campus study [or] internships, living learning experiences and community service,” the plan states in White House documents.

Information on whether the undergraduate population at Cornell would increase by 1,200 students as a result of this program was not clear based on the plan.

In addition, Cornell is also working to increase the number of students “traditionally underrepresented” in STEM fields, according to the documents.

“Cornell University will adapt eight total introductory courses in physics and biology and will share their learnings and results through the [Center for the Integration of Research on Teaching and Learning] network of 24 colleges and universities, as well as through published articles and professional conference presentations,” the documents state.

Faculty members of these departments have worked to revise curriculums and design new courses, which, according to the documents, were offered beginning this semester.

By doing this, the University hopes to “see a notable increase in performance and retention among low-income and underrepresented students in these fields,” according to the documents.