Date: September 12, 2011
Contact: Eric Matanyi
Governors State University
Phone: (708) 534-4044
Fax: (708) 534-8399
For Immediate Release
Kanter and Pramaggiore Praise Governors State Partnership During Visit
University Park, Illinois, September 12, 2011 - Dr. Martha J. Kanter, Under Secretary of the United States Department of Education, praised Governors State University’s Dual Degree Program, a groundbreaking initiative designed to increase graduation rates on both the community college and university level.
Kanter, the nation’s top-ranking post-secondary education officer, spoke at “Success by Dual Degrees: Meeting the President’s 2020 College Completion Goal,” a higher education rally hosted by GSU President Elaine P. Maimon on Friday, September 9.
“We are going to shine a spotlight on the Dual Degree Program,” said Kanter. “This is absolutely the right direction in which to go.” She called the Dual Degree Program a model partnership between GSU and regional community colleges that will help first generation college students overcome obstacles that are often found in the challenging higher education environment.
The GSU event was Dr. Kanter’s final stop on a 3-day “Education and the Economy” back-to-school bus tour, which included stops in several Midwestern states. Dr. Kanter and other Department of Education senior staff members, including Secretary Arne Duncan, visited schools they consider “islands of excellence,” preparing students to compete in the global economy.
“Your Success by Degrees strategy has all the right elements,” Kanter said of GSU. “You are offering students educational opportunities that are affordable, doable; and you are helping them to stay on track to finish what they started.”
President Barack Obama has called upon American institutions of higher learning to take steps to increase the national college graduation rate by 50 percent by 2020. GSU, responding to the president’s call, initiated the Dual Degree Program, an innovative partnership between the university and six area community colleges - Joliet Junior College, Kankakee Community College, Moraine Valley Community College, Prairie State College, South Suburban College, and Triton College.
Students must complete an associate degree before they transfer to the university and they must complete their bachelor’s degree in four years. GSU’s tuition is frozen at the rate in place when Dual Degree students enroll in the program and they are eligible for GSU Promise scholarships allowing debt-free completion of their bachelor’s degrees. Students also receive coordinated university advising and other assistance during their time at the community college.
Dr. Maimon said that completing college is especially challenging for low income students. Statistics show that higher income students who are in the lowest achievement level are more likely to achieve a bachelor’s degree than the highest achieving students in the lowest income quartile.
She stressed that the Dual Degree Program is student-centered and addresses academic, social, and psychological issues that prevent students from completing their education. “Success by dual degrees means unified preparation for students to contribute to the economy with their enhanced skills and to participate as citizens in our democracy,” she said.
In addition to its focus on college completion, the rally addressed the need to successfully prepare graduates to successfully transition into careers.
Anne Pramaggiore, President and Chief Operating Officer of ComEd, who also spoke, noted, “Governors State has applied its entrepreneurial mind set and created a platform for learning success.”
Governors State recognizes the realities of a changed and continually changing world, Pramaggiore said. The world demands the capacity to compete globally and educational success is more critical than ever.
Also attending the rally were GSU’s Board of Trustees; State Representatives Mary Flowers, D-31st District; Robert Pritchard, R-70th District; Lisa Dugan, D-79th District; University Park Mayor Vivian Covington; and Richton Park President Rick Reinbold.