College leaders focus on keeping low income students in school

During D.C. trip, college officials from UD, Sinclair and Wright State also discussed ways to boos math, engineering and other subjects.

Among those present at the White House’s “College Opportunity Day of Action” were the University of Dayton, Wright State University and Sinclair Community College.

The meeting represents the second time President Barack Obama has summoned college and university leaders to the White House to talk about how to bring new generations of Americans into U.S. colleges and universities. In January, he invited more than 140 college presidents and other education leaders to the White House.

This time, he urged representatives of more than 500 colleges and universities to commit to a new action in one of four areas:

* Building networks of colleges focused on promoting completion;

* Creating partnerships around college readiness;

* Investing in high school counselors;

* Increasing the number of college graduates in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics fields.

Sinclair President Steve Johnson, who attended the summit, said the policies outlined by Obama “align beautifully with Sinclair’s work to remove barriers to completion and to deliver services to high school students in our community.”

He said while the U.S. education is generally doing a “pretty good job” with the students they have, “when you ask the question how are we going to get more Americans into college and how are we going to get more college students to successfully complete college, that’s a different thing.

“We’re going to have to do things a little differently,” he said, saying colleges and universities must work closely with the communities they serve to expand access.

Obama’s concern is apparently a bipartisan one: Johnson said Ohio Gov. John Kasich, a Republican, brought state college and university presidents together last year with similar concerns.

Obama announced he would push $10 million to help promote college completion and a $30 million AmeriCorps program aimed at improving low-income students’ access to college.

The president said he’s been impressed by the response he’s received from both private and community colleges, philanthropists, business leaders, non-profits and school districts. Since the January summit, for example, he’s learned more than 2,000 colleges are waiving application fees for low-income students.

“This did not require a single piece of legislation, a single new stream of funding,” he said. “What it required was a sense of urgency and a sense of focus - and a recognition this should not be a Democratic issue or a Republican issue. Making sure more of our young people have access to higher education and can succeed and complete their work and get their degree — that has to be an American issue.”

Other Ohio schools represented at the summit included Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland, Cincinnati State Technical College in Cincinnati, The Ohio State University, Eastern Gateway Community College in Steubenville, North Central State College in Mansfield, and the University of Cincinnati, according to the White House

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