WMU commits to expanding college access at White House event

Contact: Cheryl Roland
Photo of WMU President John M. Dunn at the White House event.


KALAMAZOO, Mich.—Today, Western Michigan University President John M. Dunn will join President Barack Obama, the First Lady, and Vice President Joe Biden along with hundreds of college presidents and other higher education leaders to announce new actions to help more students prepare for and graduate from college. 

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

College Opportunity Day of Action

Dunn will announce WMU's commitment to increase the college and career readiness knowledge of high school counselors around the state by requiring the University's own pre-service counseling students take a new course in School Counseling for Postsecondary and Career Readiness. The course, which also will be offered online to counselors in training at other universities as well as guidance counselors already working in Michigan schools, is designed to positively impact the college-going rate in the state of Michigan.

The immediate goal of the new course work, Dunn says, is to increase both the college enrollment level and the number of students who complete financial aid paperwork at high schools whose counselors complete the WMU course. The new course, which was rolled out for fall 2014, fits the vision and goals of state organizations that WMU works with, including the Michigan College Access Network. That group works for college readiness, especially for marginalized populations and first-generation college students. WMU is taking the lead on one new front by ensuring that school counseling graduates will be equipped to become leaders and advocates for college and career readiness in the schools.

"For many students, a high school counselor is the critical guide through the college application and financial aid process," Dunn says. "We're out to ensure current and new school counselors are prepared to help students achieve their higher education dreams."

Dunn's panel begins at 1 p.m. and can also be viewed online.

About the course

Photo of Dr. Mary L. Anderson.


The WMU course was developed by Dr. Mary L. Anderson, associate professor of counselor education and counseling psychology, with a grant from the Michigan College Access Network. The course content was lauded earlier this fall during a College Opportunity Agenda event held at Harvard.

Participants in today's White House summit were asked to commit to new action in one of four areas: building networks of colleges around promoting 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 is expected to announce new steps on how his administration is helping to 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. 

Watch the event live

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 in January 2014.
The summit will be live streamed at whitehouse.gov/live, beginning at 9 a.m.