Southern Colorado Education Consortium sets goals to increase college attendance

(02-04-2011)

Adams State College hosted a Jan. 19 meeting of the Southern Colorado Education Consortium, a group of ten southern Colorado colleges and universities working to increase the number of southern Colorado residents who attend college.

Last fall, the consortium was awarded a $750,000 grant from Fund for the Improvement of Postsecondary Education (FIPSIE), U.S. Department of Education.

Dr. Michael Mumper talks with colleagues at a meeting of the Southern Colorado Education Consortium.

Dr. Michael Mumper talks with colleagues at a meeting of the Southern Colorado Education Consortium.

Dr. Michael Mumper, Adams State senior vice president for Enrollment Management and Program Development, said: "The FIPSE funding provides a wonderful opportunity for these many institutions to work together to meet the education needs of the region. By working together, we can increase access to higher education in ways that will benefit everyone".

Pam Shockley-Zalabak, chancellor of University of Colorado at Colorado Springs, noted that only nine percent of 2009 high school graduates in southern Colorado went on to pursue a higher education. The consortium set a goal of increasing that number by 2 percent by 2014. The group is working on ways to improve access and college completion for first generation, under represented, and low income students. This effort will include ways to eliminate barriers perceived by many students and parents.

In the 23 southeastern Colorado counties, about 19 percent of adults have college degrees, compared to almost 36 percent in metropolitan Denver. The region's 309 middle and high schools currently enroll about 50,000 students. Colorado also has a large education achievement gap between its Caucasian and ethnic minority residents. Correspondingly, income levels in southern Colorado are lower than those of northern Colorado.

Formed in June 2009, the consortium includes Adams State College, Colorado State University-Pueblo, Fort Lewis College, Lamar Community College, Otero Community College, Pikes Peak Community College, Pueblo Community College, Trinidad State Junior College, the University of Colorado at Colorado Springs and Western State College.

By Julie Waechter