CSUN President Takes Part in White House Summit on College Accessibility

CSUN President Dianne F. Harrison at the White House College Opportunity Day of Action. Photo courtesy of Dianne F. Harrison.

California State University, Northridge President Dianne F. Harrison today is joining President Obama, the First Lady and Vice President Biden — along with hundreds of college presidents and other higher education leaders, including CSU Chancellor Timothy White — to announce new actions to help more students prepare for and graduate from college.

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

“As one of the largest and most diverse universities in the country, CSUN has a tremendous impact on both college access and completion,” Harrison said. “CSUN is enriching the STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) student pipeline and improving student outcomes through a variety of high-impact practices.”

Harrison said CSUN will do its part by supporting research and career pathways, strengthening project-based learning and programs that link coursework to the world of work through engaged STEM research and careers starting in the first year of college.

In October 2014, CSUN was awarded a $22 million National Institutes for Health BUILD grant. BUILD@CSUN will scale up research training and mentoring to diversify the biomedical workforce. The goal is to develop rigorous and sustainable training programs for underrepresented students, using a model of research development that incorporates best practices from literature and experience. Within BUILD laboratories, students and faculty members will engage in their ongoing research in a cooperative social environment.

Participants in today’s event were asked to commit to new action in one of four areas: building networks of colleges across the country promoting college completion; creating K-16 partnerships around college readiness; investing in high school counselors as part of the First Lady’s Reach Higher Initiative; and increasing the number of college graduates in the fields of science, technology, engineering and mathematics.

President Obama will announce new steps on how his administration will support these actions, including announcing $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 will include a progress report on the commitments made at the first day of action on Jan. 14, 2014.

Expanding opportunities for 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, 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 a 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 competition.

Interested members of the public can watch today’s day of action via a live stream at WhiteHouse.gov/College-Opportunity.

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