COLLEGE STATION, Texas — Texas A&M University System Chancellor John Sharp today joins President Obama, the First Lady and Vice President Biden, along with hundreds of other higher education leaders, to announce a commitment to help more students prepare for and graduate from college.

The White House College Opportunity Day of Action helps to support the President’s commitment to collaborate with colleges and universities, business leaders, and nonprofits to support students across the country to help our nation reach its goal of leading the world in college attainment. Dr. James Hallmark, vice chancellor for Academic Affairs for the A&M System, is attending the White House event on behalf of the A&M System.

“It is an honor to join today’s leaders in education to ensure we are creating a future that brings success for our leaders of tomorrow. All eleven A&M System institutions consistently strive not only to make higher education accessible to all students, but to also ensure their success upon graduation,” said Sharp. “This is the greatest contribution of higher education – to deliver a highly qualified, skilled and motivated graduate into the workforce – and what prompted us to launch EmpowerU in 2012.”

EmpowerU is a multifaceted approach to student success consisting of multiple initiatives, which together comprise a holistic intervention to student success. The holistic approach begins by improving the preparation of incoming students through LearningU, which engages strategies to improve student performance in Texas public schools from preschool through high school, thus improving their readiness for college

EmpowerU also includes an advising initiative to assure students receive outstanding advising, ranging from the mechanics of registration, transfer articulation and prior learning assessment, to the selection of an appropriate major, course counseling and career guidance. These students are tracked thorough numerous variables to determine academic success, including a set of student learning outcomes which are frequently assessed to assure students are making progress in these areas.

Furthermore, EmpowerU connects leaders from all of A&M System institutions for discussion of best practices, adoption of successful practices across institutions and scaling up of successful practices.

EmpowerU encompasses three of the four areas today’s participants were asked to commit to addressing: building networks of colleges around promoting completion, creating K-16 partnerships around college readiness, increasing the number of college graduates in the fields of science, technology, engineering, and mathematics and investing in high school counselors as part of the First Lady’s Reach Higher initiative.

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.  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 January 14, 2014.

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.

About the A&M System
The A&M System is one of the largest systems of higher education in the nation, with a budget of $3.8 billion. Through a statewide network of 11 universities, seven state agencies, two service units and a comprehensive health science center, the A&M System educates more than 131,000 students and makes more than 22 million additional educational contacts through service and outreach programs each year. Externally funded research expenditures exceed $820 million and help drive the state’s economy.

Contact: Terry McDevitt
(979) 458-6023