Pasquerella Part of White House Summit

The White House. photo by Ad Meskens

President Obama and top administration officials met with selected college and university presidents—including Mount Holyoke College’s President Lynn Pasquerella—at an all-day White House summit Thursday, January 16. 

The hot-button topic: increasing college opportunity for low-income and disadvantaged students. 

The event is part of President Obama’s efforts to make a college education accessible and affordable for more Americans.

Each of the 100-plus participant institutions agrees to take specific, measurable actions to help low-income students. Mount Holyoke has long been a leader in addressing issues of access and affordability, and the new initiatives will enhance the College’s commitment to these values.

New Initiatives

Mount Holyoke’s part of the White House access for all effort includes these new initiatives:

• Mount Holyoke will give a full tuition scholarship to all new Frances Perkins Scholars (approximately 25–30 students each year, a commitment of more than $1 million annually). These nontraditional age students will also receive extensive support from an enhanced advising program.

• Mount Holyoke will expand and diversify college-community partnership efforts that increase access for low-income students in Western Massachusetts. These include several programs that bring current MHC students and faculty into urban schools to boost awareness of college opportunities and help K-12 and community college students prepare themselves academically for a bachelor’s degree.

• Mount Holyoke’s president, Lynn Pasquerella, will support access and affordability for low-income, first-generation college students across Massachusetts as a member of the Governor’s Commission on Higher Education Quality, Efficiency, and Finance.

• Mount Holyoke will explore expansion of its current Posse Program, which provides full scholarships to academically promising low-income students in collaboration with the Posse Foundation. 

Continuing Initiatives

The new initiatives will continue and enhance Mount Holyoke’s long-term commitment to support success for low-income students. These include:

• The Lynk, a comprehensive curriculum-to-career initiative that prepares students for life and career with goal-setting advice, a paid internship experience, professional development guidance, and help with the post-graduation transition.

• An NSF-funded project that increases the number of low-income students transferring from community colleges and pursuing science and technology disciplines.

• Admission and financial aid practices that support access for low-income and first-generation college students.

    • Sixty-eight percent of our students received need-based aid in 2013–2014.
    • The College spends some $48 million annually to provide need-based student grants and scholarships.
    • Twenty percent of students in 2013 were first-generation college students.
    • More than one-quarter of current domestic students receive Pell grants, and these women graduate at an even higher rate than the overall student body.