UIC joins White House initiative to increase college access

Chancellor Paula Allen-Meares at a White House event

Chancellor Paula Allen-Meares at the White House College Opportunity Day of Action Thursday.

Chancellor Paula Allen-Meares joined President Barack Obama, first lady Michelle Obama, Vice President Joe Biden and higher education leaders in Washington, D.C., Thursday to announce new actions to help more students prepare for and graduate from college.

“Making sure more of our young people have access to higher education and succeed and complete their work and get their degree — that has to be an American issue,” Obama said at the second White House College Opportunity Day of Action.

“I want to make sure we lead the world in education once again. It’s critical to our economic future.”

The universities and colleges 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; or increasing the number of college graduates in the fields of science, technology, engineering and mathematics.

UIC agreed to take action in two areas:

  • improving recruitment and graduation rates for women in STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) fields by working with Women in Science and Engineering (WISE), a group that serves the 2,000 women at UIC majoring in STEM fields, to increase the number of women in the WISE mentoring program by 20 percent. The program has been shown to increase graduation rates by 15 percent.
  • developing education programs and strategies for recruitment and retention of low-income Asian American and Native American Pacific Islander students. As a designated Asian American and Native American Pacific Islander-Serving Institution (AANAPISI), UIC is working with the AANAPISI Consortium toward a 2 percent increase in degrees conferred annually, closing the degree attainment gap by 50 percent by 2025.


“Through programs that offer targeted mentoring and personalized support, UIC is committed to student success and strategies that will improve student recruitment, retention and graduation rates,” said Allen-Meares. “We welcome the opportunity to share UIC’s commitment with the president and first lady at the White House College Opportunity Day of Action.”

The president announced two initiatives: $10 million to promote college completion and a $30 million AmeriCorps program to improve low-income students’ access to college.

“If all of us work together, there is no limit to what this country can achieve,” Obama said.


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