Paul Smith's College heads to White House event to announce commitment to expand college access

PAUL SMITHS, NY (12/03/2014)(readMedia)-- Paul Smith's College President Cathy S. Dove will join President Barack Obama, the first lady and Vice President Joe Biden today along with other higher education leaders to announce new actions to help more students prepare for and graduate from college.

The Obama administration said the event, titled The White House College Opportunity Day of Action, allows Obama to partner with colleges and universities, business leaders and nonprofits on his commitment to support students across the country and to help the U.S. reach its goal of leading the world in college attainment.

During the event, Dove will announce a new program for students interested in pursuing careers in science fields related to Paul Smith's strengths such as ecology, sustainability and the environment. The program, titled Excellence in Environmental Education, combines personal mentoring, experiential education and financial aid to increase student engagement, retention and employability.

Paul Smith's will commit at least $10,000 per year in financial aid to students who are selected for the program. Aid will continue each year for students who remain in good standing.

"Our goal is to have 80-90 percent degree-completion rates for the participants of this program," Dove said. "We want to build on our current success in these important educational areas and attract even more students to careers in environmental studies and sustainability. A Paul Smith's education results in jobs for students; more than 90 percent of our graduates are employed in their fields or pursuing advanced degrees within six months of graduation."

"In this critical time of global change, developing practical environmental awareness and the ability to communicate it is more crucial to the well-being of humankind and the rest of the world than ever before," said Curt Stager, professor of natural sciences. "Paul Smith's College does this better than any other place I know, and it makes me proud to be part of this amazing, innovative educational community."

Today's participants 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.

Obama will announce new steps his administration has taken toward these actions, including $10 million to help promote college completion and a $30 million AmeriCorps program that will improve low-income students' access to college. 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 on Jan. 14.

The Obama administration says that expanding opportunity for more students to enroll and succeed in college, especially low-income and underrepresented students, is vital to building a strong economy and a strong middle class. Today, only 9 percent of those born in the lowest family income quartile attain a bachelor's degree by age 25, compared to 54 percent in the top quartile. In an effort to expand college access, the Obama administration has increased Pell scholarships by $1,000 a year, created the new American Opportunity Tax Credit worth up to $10,000 over four years of college, limited student loan payments to 10 percent of income and laid out an ambitious agenda to reduce college costs and promote innovation and competition.


At Paul Smith's College, it's about the experience. Paul Smith's, which was founded in 1946, is the only bachelor's degree-granting institution of higher education in the Adirondacks. Our programs – in fields including hospitality, culinary arts, forestry, natural resources and the sciences – draw on industries and resources available in our own backyard while preparing students for successful careers anywhere. For more information: