WMU receives one of six statewide college-access awards

by Jeanne Baron
| WMU News
Photo of WMU and MCAN representatives with the award.

From left, Brandy Johnson, executive director of MCAN; Dr. Mary L. Anderson, WMU associate professor of counselor education and counseling psychology; Dr. Ming Li, WMU dean of the College of Education and Human Development; and Dan DeGrow, chair of the MCAN Board of Directors.

KALAMAZOO, Mich.—Western Michigan University is one of six "outstanding" college access advocates that have received awards for their contributions to a statewide effort to increase the number of Michiganders who earn college degrees or other postsecondary educational credentials.

The six organizations and individuals, including Gov. Rick Snyder, received inaugural College Access Impact Awards from the Michigan College Access Network during its fifth annual conference held April 12-13 in Lansing.

MCAN singled them out as leaders in the college-access field as well as valuable partners in its effort to increase the number of Michigan students enrolling in, persisting through and completing postsecondary educational credentials. Organization officials say 38.4 percent of the state's residents have such credentials, and MCAN aims to increase the proportion to 60 percent by the year 2025.

WMU's efforts toward achieving that goal earned it the Steward Award: Creating College Access Talent. Recipients of the honor have "dramatically contributed to increasing the skills, talent and knowledge of college-access professionals in Michigan." Accepting the award on behalf of the University were Dr. Mary L. Anderson, associate professor of counselor education and counseling psychology, and Dr. Ming Li, dean of the College of Education and Human Development.

WMU initiatives cited

MCAN selected WMU for the Steward Award based on three primary initiatives.

  • The University is the first Michigan higher education institution to require and implement a college-readiness training course for its master's degree students in school counseling. The course, launched in fall 2014, was designed by Anderson and led to WMU President John M. Dunn being invited that year to be a panelist at the White House College Opportunity Day of Action. Dunn joined President Barack Obama, the First Lady, and other governmental and educational leaders at the event to announce new actions to help more students prepare for and graduate from college.
  • The University launched the Journal of College Access, a peer-reviewed, academic, online journal focusing on how students aspire to, gain access to, enroll in and persist in higher education institutions. It was co-founded by Dr. Christopher Tremblay, associate provost for enrollment management.
  • The University has been a leader in supporting and facilitating the statewide professional development course that gives Michigan's school counselors formal training in the college-going process. Anderson and Tremblay served in 2014 as two of the four instructor-facilitators for the new eight-month, hybrid course launched last year by MCAN and Michigan Virtual University. Anderson served as an instructor-facilitator again this year, along with Dr. Glinda Rawls, WMU associate professor of counselor education and counseling psychology.

Other advocates, activities

All of the recipients of the 2015 College Access Impact Awards were cited for having a tremendous impact on increasing college readiness, participation and completion in Michigan, particularly among low-income students, first-generation college students and students of color.

They included Gov. Rick Snyder, who received the Compass Award for his advocacy for postsecondary attainment; the Kresge Foundation, which received the Beacon Award for its support of MCAN activities; and Destination Education, which received the Flagship Award for developing a strong as well as sustainable college-access network to serve the cities of Holland and Zeeland.

WMU's award draws attention to the University's extensive efforts related to college access, as well as the number of administrators and other employees who are involved in them.

Education college Dean Li, for instance, serves with Anderson on MCAN's Michigan College and Career Readiness School Counseling Task Force and also has been active at the national level. His more recent activities include being a member of the Michigan delegation that took part in the invitation-only White House convening event on strengthening school counselors and college advising that was held Nov. 17-19, 2014, at San Diego State University.

For more information about the College Access Impact Awards or increasing college attainment in Michigan, visit MCAN's website at micollegeaccess.org.

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