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New effort to increase higher ed opportunity

June 4, 2010

KALAMAZOO--The presidents of six Southwest Michigan community colleges and Western Michigan University met June 3 on the WMU campus to launch a consortium aimed at expanding and strengthening higher education opportunities for college students throughout the region.

Members of the new consortium committed as a group to collaborate and share resources in a way that will lead to expanded college opportunities and increase the level of preparedness of the work force across the region. A formal signing ceremony sealed the agreement that was developed during a regular series of informal meetings the presidents have held over the past two years.

Signing on to the new effort during a special meeting hosted by Dr. John M. Dunn, president of WMU, were:

  • Dr. G. Edward Haring, president, Kellogg Community College
  • Dr. Robert P. Harrison, president, Lake Michigan College
  • Dr. David M. Mathews, president, Southwestern Community College
  • Dr. Dale K. Nesbary, president, Muskegon Community College
  • Dr. Marilyn J. Schlack, president, Kalamazoo Valley Community College
  • Dr. Gary Wheeler, president, Glen Oaks Community College, who was represented at t he signing ceremony by Dr. Patricia K. Morgenstern, the college's associate dean of instruction.

"We all agree that there is potential for enormous benefit to our students if, as a group, we are thoughtful and creative about how we leverage existing resources to meet the needs of the populations we serve," Dunn says. "This is our commitment to work closely together to ensure students have the opportunities they need to realize their goals."

Among next steps in the consortium development process will be series of meetings between officials at the individual community colleges and WMU in which specific academic programs and ventures will be examined and tailored to the needs of students. Each college will appoint a liaison to the consortium who will be charged with identifying areas of mutual interest with the greatest potential for strengthening the participating institutions.

Examples of the type of programs that may grow out of the consortium are two pilot dual-enrollment programs serving aviation and engineering students at Kellogg Community College who plan to earn bachelor's degrees from WMU. Those programs have launched in the past 18 months. Similar programs and opportunities are already in stages of formation and implementation with the other community college partners.

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Media contact: Cheryl Roland, (269) 387-8400, cheryl.roland@wmich.edu

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