FIU announces commitments to expand college access at White House event

FIU Provost and Executive Vice President Kenneth G. Furton will join President Barack Obama, first lady Michelle Obama, 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 is part of the president’s commitment to partner with colleges and universities, business leaders, and nonprofits to support students across the country. The goal is for the U.S. to lead the world in college attainment.

“America’s public, urban universities are the pathway to our future prosperity, and FIU’s demographics are similar to what many colleges and universities will experience in the future,” Furton said. “We are pleased to share what is working well at FIU and at our partner institutions and commit resources to accelerate success for our students.”

FIU alumna Idaykis Rodriguez, who works as a postdoctoral fellow at FIU’s STEM Transformation Institute, has been tapped to introduce Biden. FIU will announce its commitment to three initiatives, which are in line with Obama’s priorities: building networks of colleges around promoting completion, creating kindergarten to college (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 (STEM).

  • College Opportunity: Florida Consortium of Metropolitan Research Universities (FIU, University of Central Florida and University of South Florida).  The consortium will aim to increase the six-year graduation from 54 percent in 2012-2013 to 71 percent in 2020 and 76 percent by 2025. Overall, this will produce an additional 5,642 graduates by 2020 and a total of 7,742 graduates by 2025.
  • K-16 Partnerships: FIU and Miami-Dade Schools’ Education Effect at Booker T. Washington. Leveraging a strong collaborative platform, and private support of more than $1 million, this commitment aims to increase college-going and success by increasing dual enrollment courses; transforming teacher professional development in STEM; implementing math and civics after school institutes; infusing college entrance test preparation and reinvigorating the engineering academy, while reopening an on-site planetarium.
  • STEM Education:  Increasing STEM Graduation Rates by taking evidence-based models to scale.  FIU’s commitment is to increase overall STEM graduation rates by 10 percent by taking effective models of peer-led and active learning in smaller environments to scale across disciplines. Within a year, 50 percent of the STEM majors will experience evidence-based instruction and all students will experience evidence-based instruction in at least one course in three years.  This is projected to reduce individual course failure rates by at least 20 percent within 2 years of implementation.

The president will 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.  This 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, on January 14, 2014. FIU President Mark Rosenberg participated in that event.