University Park, IL-(ENEWSPF)- Governors State University has received an $875,000 grant from the Kresge Foundation, which will be used to enhance the university’s innovative Dual Degree Program (DDP). The Kresge Foundation announced the three-year grant on November 29. During the grant period, GSU will use funding from the Foundation to strengthen the DDP, which is already recognized as a national model for degree completion.
“The Kresge Foundation is delighted to support the Dual Degree Program,” said Caroline Altman Smith, Program Officer. “GSU has made an impressive institutional commitment to transfer students, and we salute the university’s efforts to develop creative pathways to increase degree completion. With the kind of leadership, focus, and resources that GSU is dedicating to this effort, we’re confident the university is building a model that will attract attention from those seeking to build cross-institutional partnerships to improve transfer rates.”
“GSU is honored by the Kresge Foundation’s belief in us as a beacon of change,” said GSU President Elaine P. Maimon. “We are proud to partner with Kresge in their national effort to create greater access to postsecondary education for low-income, minority, and first-generation college students. With Kresge’s support, we hope to influence other universities to adopt the principles of the Dual Degree Program.”
The Kresge Foundation is a $3.1 billion private foundation that seeks to influence the quality of life for future generations through its support of nonprofit organizations in six fields: health, the environment, arts and culture, education, human services, and community development. In 2011, Kresge awarded more than $22 million in grants to support higher education in the United States and South Africa, with half benefiting U.S. community colleges. For more information, visit the Foundation website at www.kresge.org or follow @kresgefdn.
The DDP is a unique approach to university-community college collaboration and to associate and bachelor’s degree completion. The program is designed to help students overcome academic, financial, and social/psychological barriers to earn two degrees. The DDP is also a rigorous program that requires participating students to attend college full-time, maintain an acceptable grade point average, meet regularly with college and university advisors, complete the associate degree before transfer, and finish both the associate and bachelor’s degrees in no more than nine semesters.
Community college partners include College of DuPage, Joliet Junior College, Kankakee Community College, Moraine Valley Community College, Morton College, Prairie State College, South Suburban College, and Triton College. During its inaugural year, 150 community college students have enrolled in the DDP.
The DDP has already been nationally recognized as a model for degree completion. Dr. Martha Kanter, Under Secretary of the U.S. Department of Education, recently praised the DDP during a visit to Governors State. “Governors State University is an island of excellence. We’re going to shine a spotlight on the Dual Degree Program,” she said. “This is absolutely the right direction in which to go.
Governors State will use the grant to provide start-up funds for two significant enhancements to the DDP:
- Development, implementation, and assessment of a professional advising and student peer mentor program (provided by DDP staff and students on community college campuses); and
- Development, implementation, and assessment of a fully online Certificate of Advanced Study in Transfer Student Services aimed at educating and aligning staff professionals, administrators, and faculty to support degree completion.
During the next three years, GSU will work with community college partners to create a small cadre of DDP transfer specialists and student peer mentors who will forge strong connections between community college and university students, ensuring that they focus on degree completion during their entire undergraduate career. Transfer specialists will also support and foster relationships between community college and university advisors. They will help community college students plan a four-year pathway, first completing the Associate Degree and then moving on to the bachelor’s and beyond.
The Certificate of Advanced Study in Transfer Student Services will focus on topics such as adult learning and development, advising for successful degree completion and transfer, current trends and topics in higher education transfer, developing successful services for students as they transfer, crafting financial aid strategies for transfer students, empowering students to stay on the transfer track, matching transfer students to faculty and advisors, and developing peer mentor programs for potential transfer students.
For more information on the Dual Degree Program, visit www.govst.edu/dualdegree.