Hobart and William Smith President Mark D. Gearan at White House to Discuss Higher Education

Jan 16, 2014, 15:06 ET from Hobart And William Smith College

WASHINGTON, Jan. 16, 2014 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Hobart and William Smith President Mark D. Gearan has been invited by President Barack Obama to be among only 85 college presidents in the nation to attend a Higher Education Summit at the White House today to launch a plan of action for increasing college opportunity for low-income and disadvantaged students. The Summit includes discussions about higher education's role in increasing college opportunities, an initiative that has been a primary focus of Hobart and William Smith, most recently through the Geneva 2020 project.

"I am proud that the work of Hobart and William Smith Colleges is being recognized in this way," says Gearan. "The Colleges have a long history of providing access to students with demonstrated need and in partnering with our colleagues in the local school district to increase graduation rates and college attendance levels. I am honored to collaborate with national leaders and to share ideas on how we can collectively expand opportunities."

Hobart and William Smith currently fund several programs and scholarships to assist low-income and disadvantaged students to attend and compete in college. The Colleges have increased the share of Pell-eligible students (17% of students are Pell recipients), participated in cohort-based models such as Posse, engaged more students in bridge programs that improve the transition from high school to college, and expanded financial aid in the past five years from $27 million to $43 million, making financial aid 30% of the Colleges' operating budget.

In addition, HWS piloted a unique program - Geneva 2020 - rooted in the collective impact model aimed directly at ensuring that low-income high school students in our community have the skills necessary to graduate from high school and to effectively pursue college. The program has already helped move the local high school graduation rate from 70% in 2010 to 82% in 2013, and to increase the number of local high school students entering college from 74% in 2009 to 76% in 2013.

This summer, HWS celebrated the 45th anniversary of the Geneva Scholarship Associates which since its inception has enabled nearly 200 students from Geneva who have financial need to attend the Colleges.

Since 1999, Gearan has led Hobart and William Smith. One of our nation's leading experts on the intersection of higher education and civic engagement, Gearan is chair of the Talloires Network Steering Committee. He served as Director of the Peace Corps and was Assistant to the President, Director of Communications and Deputy Chief of Staff in the Clinton White House.

Web site: http://www.hws.edu/index.aspx

SOURCE Hobart And William Smith College