ASC's Svaldi to chair Southern Colorado Education Consortium

(07-26-2011)

Adams State's President David Svaldi was chosen to chair the Southern Colorado Education Consortium at the group's July 6 meeting on the Adams State campus. The consortium is a collaboration among all ten southern Colorado colleges formed to increase the number of southern Colorado residents who attend college.

"Earning a college degree makes an enormous improvement in an individual's lifetime earning potential. It is extremely important to our region that we make higher education accessible to more of our residents," Svaldi said. "This access and outreach is a core part of Adams State's mission as a Regional Education Provider."

Adams State College President David Svaldi

Adams State College President David Svaldi

Only nine percent of 2009 high school graduates in southern Colorado went on to pursue a higher education. The consortium's goal is to increase that number by two percent by 2014. Southern Colorado's lower educational attainment in reflected in lower income levels. 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.

The consortium's work is fueled by a $750,000 Fund for the Improvement of Postsecondary Education (FIPSE) grant from the U.S. Department of Education. One component will expand concurrent college courses for high school students, allowing them to complete high school requirements and earn college credit. These courses may take the form of face-to-face, online, or a hybrid format. The consortium has committed $25,000 over two years to create summer activities programs on college campuses for school children.

Governor John Hickenlooper said the consortium is "THE model for the future of higher education in Colorado."

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.

Formed in June 2009, the consortium includes five two-year and five four-year institutions: 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