Jack Kent Cooke Foundation Joins Amherst and Mount Holyoke Colleges to Increase Access for Community College Students

March 6, 2006

Media Contact: Dr. Pete Mackey
Director of Public Affairs
Office: (703) 723-8000, ext. 215
Cell: (443) 995-3495

Local Contacts: Amherst College (413) 542-8417;
Kevin McCaffrey, Mount Holyoke College, (413) 538-2987

AMHERST and SOUTH HADLEY, Mass.—Amherst and Mount Holyoke Colleges have joined with the Jack Kent Cooke Foundation and six other renowned colleges and universities to announce an investment of $27 million to markedly increase the opportunities for high-achieving, low-income community college students to earn bachelor’s degrees from selective four-year institutions. It is the largest shared investment to date by leading colleges and universities to overcome the lack of opportunities low-income students have at such schools.

Through the investment, the Foundation, three public universities, and five private colleges and universities will build model programs that enable academically qualified low- to moderate-income community college students to transfer to selective schools in unprecedented numbers.

The other six colleges and universities are Bucknell University, Cornell University, the University of California-Berkeley, the University of Michigan-Ann Arbor, the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, and the University of Southern California.

"Our country has a treasure of untapped talent at our community colleges, including many outstanding students from low-income backgrounds," said Dr. Matthew J. Quinn, the Foundation's Executive Director. "This initiative will help selective colleges and universities achieve their goals of access and excellence and enable these students to graduate from the highest-ranking institutions. We will all benefit if every qualified student with financial need has such opportunities."

Amherst and Mount Holyoke's programs

Mount Holyoke College will use the $779,000 grant from the Jack Kent Cooke Foundation to expand its already robust commitment to enrolling high-achieving, low- and moderate-income students and transfers from community colleges, and to strengthen our partnership with Holyoke Community College. HCC is set to receive more than $300,000 from the grant to provide academic counseling, mentoring, and "learning community" courses for promising area students to prepare them to transfer to selective four-year colleges after graduation. In addition, Mount Holyoke will be making an institutional contribution close to $2 million towards the initiative, primarily for financial aid.

Beginning in the fall of 2006, the College will implement the Community College Transfer Initiative at Mount Holyoke College. This program will increase enrollment of low- and moderate-income transfer students from community colleges at Mount Holyoke by 10 students per year--for an additional 40 through the four years of the grant--through enhanced outreach efforts at HCC and other community colleges.

Other aspects of the program include: creation of a new five-week quantitative reasoning course, Math Transition, for 15 HCC students each semester to prepare them to transfer to a selective four-year college; a peer-mentoring program; and a new outreach effort to women veterans of the Gulf War and the recent conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan who wish to continue their educations.

"This generous grant from the Jack Kent Cooke Foundation goes directly to addressing the biggest challenge that we face in higher education today: access to top-quality education for low-income students," said Mount Holyoke College President Joanne V. Creighton. "Mount Holyoke has been a leader in providing such access. We look forward to working with the Foundation, with Amherst, and with other colleges and community colleges to continue to open doors to talented students who might not otherwise have the opportunity to attend a leading institution."

According to Jane Brown, Vice President for Enrollment and College Relations, "Our community college transfer students meet the high academic standards we set for Mount Holyoke women and make a significant contribution to our rigorous intellectual community."

Of the nation's 30 top liberal arts colleges, Mount Holyoke has the second highest percentage--over 20 percent--of students receiving Pell Grants, a federal fund designated for low-income students. Ten percent--approximately 50 students--of Mount Holyoke's graduating students every year have been community college students. On average, there are 200 community college transfer students at Mount Holyoke, representing 10 percent of the student population; the majority of these transfer students are enrolled in the Frances Perkins program for students of nontraditional age.

Amherst College will use its grant of $585,142 from the Jack Kent Cooke Foundation to support its ongoing efforts to find and enroll the best college students in the world—wherever they come from, whatever their educational background.

Amherst provides access to the highest quality education to all deserving students, regardless of ability to pay. Over the next four years, Amherst plans to launch an integrated set of recruitment initiatives at all 15 community colleges across the state of Massachusetts, with the goal of enrolling 10 or more new transfers in each entering class. These new outreach initiatives have been designed in collaboration with six community colleges, including Greenfield, Holyoke and Springfield Technical Community Colleges. Amherst will appoint a new admission fellow to work exclusively with community college students, and will recruit a group of current Amherst students who themselves transferred from community colleges to work as “telementors” for prospective students in the admission process. New residential life programs will also be set up at Amherst to ease the social and academic transition to a residential four-year liberal arts college.

“Our need-blind admission policy has always meant that highly motivated, highly qualified students could come to Amherst, even if they didn’t think they could afford it,” says Tom Parker, dean of admission at Amherst. “We’re finding new ways to reach out to the largest number of qualified students: we now can draw from a really amazing group of high achievers at the community colleges who are ready for Amherst.” Amherst’s president, Anthony W. Marx, adds, “America can’t afford to lose any qualified aspirants to a liberal arts education because they think community college is all they can afford. We’re grateful to the Jack Kent Cooke Foundation for helping Amherst to find these stars at the community colleges—and we hope that other selective private colleges will see, at Amherst, what a rich untapped resource they are.”

The Amherst College financial aid program is regularly cited in U.S. News & World Report, Kiplinger’s, Money magazine and other media as one of the country’s best. Amherst meets the full demonstrated need of every admitted student. Last year, Amherst provided more than $20 million in scholarship aid to about half of the student body. The average scholarship package was $26,326. Low-income students graduate from Amherst with no debt. About a quarter of the students who receive grants graduate with no student loans to repay. Middle-income students graduate from Amherst with significantly less debt than students from virtually all comparable colleges and universities.

More about the grants in general

The partnership with the Foundation responds to several trends impacting higher education's efforts to provide opportunities for outstanding students, regardless of socioeconomic status, to earn a four-year degree:

  • Community colleges enroll 6.5 million students (45 percent of all undergraduates), including the majority of low- to moderate-income students.
  • Selective four-year institutions typically focus recruitment and financial aid on high school graduates, including scholarship and tuition remission programs for students from low-income families recently introduced at Harvard, Yale, the University of Virginia, and other institutions.
  • Only 10 percent of students at the top 146 highly selective colleges come from the bottom half of the socioeconomic status scale.
  • Only 7 percent of young people from low socioeconomic backgrounds earn college degrees by age 26.
  • Research commissioned by the Foundation shows that more than one-third of community college transfer students graduated in the top two quartiles of their high school graduating classes.
  • The more selective the institution, the more likely a student enrolled there is to graduate with a four-year degree, particularly if the student comes from a low socioeconomic background.

To establish the initiative, the Foundation is awarding grants totaling $6.78 million to the eight partner institutions, and the recipients are in turn committing $20.5 million in financial aid and other resources to expand or develop community college transfer programs that reach out to and support transfer students. The eight institutions aim to develop on their campuses a set of programs and practices that can greatly expand opportunities for low-income students to earn four-year degrees. As part of the initiative, they will aggressively recruit, admit, and offer scholarships to the best community college students and participate in an evaluation of their efforts, the conclusions of which will be shared nationally.

Through these programs over the next four years, the eight recipients combined expect to enroll 1,100 new community college transfer students from low- to moderate-income backgrounds and provide another 2,100 with college access information and instructional services. The institutions will also partner with more than 50 community colleges as they build and develop their transfer programs. A list of the Foundation's grants to the recipients is attached.

The Foundation chose the eight institutions participating in the initiative following a national call for proposals to America's 127 most selective colleges and universities. Forty-eight institutions submitted proposals. The eight grant recipients will pursue several goals, including

  • Reaching out to populations currently underrepresented in selective colleges.
  • Enrolling a combined 1,100 additional low- to middle-income community college transfers over the next four years, beginning in fall 2007.
  • Developing transfer programs for high-achieving, low- to moderate-income community college students that serve as models for other selective institutions to replicate.
  • Participating in a five-year study funded by the Foundation that evaluates the effectiveness of the programs and provides information and ideas to be shared nationally.
  • Building strong collaborations with their partner community colleges.
  • Committing to sustaining the program after the grant period.

In June 2006, the Foundation will host a national conference focused on strategies to increase the number of low-income community college students that transfer to selective four-year schools. An opinion piece related to these initiatives is attached, as are brief stories of several community college transfer students who exemplify the type of students this program will help.

About the Jack Kent Cooke Foundation

The Foundation is a private, independent foundation established in 2000 by the estate of Jack Kent Cooke to help young people of exceptional promise reach their full potential through education. It focuses in particular on students with financial need. The Foundation's programs include the largest scholarships in the U.S. for community college transfer students, scholarships to graduate and high school students, and grants to organizations that serve high-achieving students with financial need. Visit the Foundation website.


Jack Kent Cooke Foundation
Community College Transfer Initiative Grant Recipients
March 6, 2006

Total Foundation grants: $6.78 million
Total financial aid and other commitments from recipients to initiative: $20.5 million

Amherst College
Amherst, MA
Grant: $585,142
President: Anthony W. Marx
Ms. Stacey Schmeidel
Director of Public Affairs
(413) 542-2321 or saschmeidel@amherst.edu

Bucknell University
Lewisburg, PA
Grant: $806,400
President: Brian C. Mitchell
Ms. Kathryn Kopchik
Associate Director of Communications
(570) 577-3618 or kkopchik@bucknell.edu

Cornell University
Ithaca, NY
Grant: $810,800
President: Hunter R. Rawlings, III
Mr. Tommy Bruce
Vice President, Communications and Media Relations
(607) 255-9929 or twb22@cornell.edu

Mount Holyoke College
South Hadley, MA
Grant: $778,933
President: Joanne V. Creighton
Mr. Kevin McCaffrey
Associate Director, Office of Communications
(413) 538-2987 or kmccaffr@mtholyoke.edu

University of California, Berkeley
Berkeley, CA
Grant: $1,000,000
Chancellor: Robert J. Birgeneau
Dr. Marsha Jaeger
Director, Center for Educational Partnerships
(510) 642-8368 or mjaeger@berkeley.edu

University of Michigan, Ann Arbor
Ann Arbor, MI
Grant: $1,000,000
President: Mary Sue Coleman
Ms. Nancy Connell
Director, News Service
(734) 764-7260 or nconnell@umich.edu

University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
Chapel Hill, NC
Grant: $898,789
Chancellor: James Moeser
Mr. Scott Ragland
Director of Development Communications
(919) 962-0027 or scott_ragland@unc.edu

University of Southern California
Los Angeles, CA
Grant: $901,739
President: Steven B. Sample
Ms. Susan Heitman
Associate Vice President for Public Relations
(213) 740-7896 or sheitman@usc.edu


David Cole and Phil Scraton To Discuss Prison and Civil Liberties at Amherst College April 4

March 3, 2006
Director of Media Relations

AMHERST, Mass.—David Cole of Georgetown University and Phil Scraton of the School of Law at Queen’s University, Belfast, will present a panel discussion of “Enemies of the State?: Prisons, Human Rights, Civil Liberties and Democracies in Transition” at 4:30 p.m. on Tuesday, April 4, in the Cole Assembly Room (Red Room) in Converse Hall at Amherst College. Part of a series on the topic “Regulating Citizens: Prisons and the Future of Democratic Societies,” the discussion is sponsored by the Corliss Lamont Fund for a Peaceful World and open to the public.

The series is designed to foster discussion on problems of “citizenship” in both national and global arenas, issues of great concern in the domestic and international context and the topic of important debates not only regarding the rights of vulnerable populations, such as prisoners and immigrants, but all citizens in democratic societies. This program is also part of an Amherst College political science course, “Regulating Citizenship,” which is being taught inside the Hampshire County Jail and House of Corrections by Kristin Bumiller, professor of women’s and gender studies and political science.

Scraton is chair in criminology in the Institute of Criminology and Criminal Justice, the School of Law at Queen’s University in Northern Ireland. He has written widely about deaths in controversial circumstances (public inquiries, inquests and criminal investigations), the politics of truth commissions, imprisonment and prisoners’ resistance. In 2004 he completed a study for the Human Rights Commission titled “The Hurt Inside: The Imprisonment of Women and Girls in Northern Ireland.”

Cole is a professor of law at Georgetown University. A graduate of Yale Law School, he served as a law clerk to Judge Arlin M. Adams of the United States Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit, and later became a staff attorney for the Center for Constitutional Rights, where he litigated a number of major First Amendment cases. He has published in a variety of areas, including civil rights, criminal justice, constitutional law and law and literature. He is the legal affairs correspondent for The Nation, a commentator on National Public Radio: All Things Considered, and the author of three books, including Enemy Aliens: Double Standards and Constitutional Freedoms in the War on Terrorism (2005). Enemy Aliens received the American Book Award and the Hefner First Amendment Prize in 2004.


“Film in Africa/Africa in Film” Festival at Amherst, Mount Holyoke, Smith and UMass, March 29 through April 2

March 3, 2006
Director of Media Relations

AMHERST, Mass.—The Five College African Studies Council and the Multicultural Film Festival will present “Film in Africa/Africa in Film,” a series of films from contemporary African filmmakers and discussions with the filmmakers and critics, from Wednesday, March 29, through Sunday, April 2, at Amherst, Mount Holyoke and Smith Colleges and the University of Massachusetts at Amherst. Sponsored by the English Department at Amherst College, all films and talks are free and open to the public. Descriptions of the films and up-to-the-minute information about schedules are available at the festival Website.

“Africa has been the object of the camera’s gaze since the earliest days of the film industry,” says Rhonda Cobham-Sander, a professor of black studies and English at Amherst College and one of the organizers of the festival. “From the Tarzan melodramas to the more recent The Gods Must be Crazy; from Jean Rouch’s documentaries to the Nature Channel, moving images shaped the way in which, for better or worse, the rest of the world encountered Africa in the 20th century. But Africans also became sophisticated consumers and producers of films during this same period. In societies for which literacy remains a privilege, the moving image was—and still remains—one of the most successful of the modern media to offer Africans a venue for self reflexivity.”

At 7:30 p.m. on Wednesday, March 29, in Room 137 in the Isenberg School of Management at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst, filmmaker Jean-Marie Teno (Cameroon) will present Le Malentendu Colonial, introduced by Patrick Mensah, professor of French studies at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst. This screening is held in collaboration with “World Cinema Now!” the 13th Annual Massachusetts Multicultural Film Festival.

At 4:30 p.m. on Thursday, March 30, in Room 329 in Morrill Hall at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst, Samba Gadjigo, a professor of French at Mount Holyoke College, will introduce Moolaade by Ousmane Sembene (Senegal). Gadjigo will then present his short film titled The Making of Moolaade.

At 6 p.m. on Thursday, March 30, in Gamble Auditorium at Mount Holyoke College, filmmaker Claire Andrade-Watkins (USA), a professor of visual and media arts cinema at Emerson College, will present Some Funny Kind of Porto Rican?, a Cape Verdean-American Story, introduced by Girma Kebbede, a professor of geography at Mount Holyoke College.

At 12 noon on Friday, March 31, in Stirn Auditorium at Amherst College, filmmaker John Akomfrah (Ghana) will present Digitopia and other shorts. At 2 p.m. filmmaker Nadia El Fani (Tunisia) will present Bedwin Hacker. (There also will be a showing of this film at 8 p.m. on Thursday, March 30, in Graham Hall in the Brown Fine Arts Center at Smith College.) At 4.30 p.m., a Filmmakers’ Roundtable on the topic of production will take place. At 8 p.m., filmmaker Dani Kouyate (Burkina Faso) will present Ouaga Saga.

At 10 a.m. on Saturday, April 1, in Stirn Auditorium at Amherst College, a Critics’ Roundtable on the aesthetics of film will take place. At 2 p.m., filmmaker Ben Diogaye Beye (Senegal) will present Un Amour D’Enfant. At 4 p.m. a second Critics’ Roundtable on film pedagogy will take place. At 8 p.m., filmmaker Eric Kabera (Rwanda) will present Keepers of Memory.

At 2 p.m. on Sunday, April 2, in Stirn Auditorium at Amherst College, Twelve Disciples of Nelson Mandela by Thomas Allen Harris (South Africa) will be shown. At 4 p.m. Zulu Love Letter by Ramadan Suleman (South Africa) will be screened.

The critics taking part include Awam Amkpa (Tisch School of the Arts, New York University), Dudley Andrew (Film Studies and Comparative Literature, Yale University), Burlin Barr (Department of English, Simmons College), Mahen Bonetti (principal coordinator for the bi-annual New York Film Festival Lincoln Center and the Brooklyn Museum), Josef Gugler (Department of Sociology, University of Connecticut), Gaston Kabore (Filmmaker and organizer of the Ouagadougou Film Festival), Sada Niang (French Department, University of Victoria in British Columbia) and Philip Rosen (Department of Modern Culture and Media, Brown University).


Poet Mark Rudman To Read at Amherst College March 30

March 3, 2006
Director of Media Relations

AMHERST, Mass.—The poet Mark Rudman will read from his work at 8 p.m. on Thursday, March 30, in the Pruyne Lecture Hall (Fayerweather 115) at Amherst College. Sponsored by the Amherst College Creative Writing Center, the event is free and open to the public. Refreshments will be served.

Stanley Kunitz described Rudman as “an inquiring spirit… a reflective poet, who is as attentive to the ancient mystery as he is to the business of the day.” The New York Times Book Review said simply, “Poets have a lot to learn from Rudman.” His seventh and most recent collection of poetry, Sundays on the Phone, offers a fiercely intimate account of a relationship between a son and his mother. Rudman has received awards from the National Endowment for the Arts and the Guggenheim Foundation, among many others. Also an editor, a critic and an award-winning translator, he currently teaches poetry at NYU.

The Amherst College Creative Writing Center puts on a yearly reading series featuring both emerging and established authors. For more information, please call 413/542-8200.


President of Hampshire College Ralph J. Hexter to Speak on The Nostoi Project at Amherst College March 28

March 3, 2006
Director of Media Relations

AMHERST, Mass.—Ralph J. Hexter, the president of Hampshire College and professor of classics and comparative literature, will speak on “Necessity and War ” at 4:30 p.m. on Tuesday, March 28, in the Pruyne Lecture Hall (Fayerweather 115) at Amherst College. Sponsored by The Nostoi Project at Hampshire College, Hexter’s talk is free and open to the public.

The Nostoi Project is a spring-semester event organized by Hampshire professor of epic drama and religion Robert. E. Meagher using ancient literature, particularly concerning the Trojan War, as a means for addressing the needs of today’s returning veterans. The project takes its name from the lost ancient Greek epic, “Nostoi,” meaning “the return home,” which recounts the Greek soldiers’ return from the Trojan War. Hexter will be among a list of many speakers, including veterans, a psychiatrist, a poet, military professionals, a journalist, an author and a playwright. Six documentaries dealing with veterans returning from war will also be shown, along with a play performed by Hampshire College students and an exhibit of Pulitzer Prize-winning photos of Iraq. Visit the The Nostoi Project Website.

Hexter holds Ph.D. and M.Phil. degrees from Yale University, B.A. and M.A. degrees from Corpus Christi College, Oxford University and an A.B. degree from Harvard College. Prior to assuming the role of fifth president of Hampshire College, Hexter was executive dean of letters and science and dean of arts and humanities at the University of California, Berkeley and professor of classics and comparative literature and director of the graduate program in comparative literature at the University of Colorado at Boulder.

Hexter’s works in medieval and ancient literature include Equivocal Oaths and Ordeals in Medieval Literature (1975); Ovid and Medieval Schooling: Studies in Medieval School Commentaries on Ovid’s Ars Amatoria, Epistulae ex Ponto and Epistulae Heroidum (1986) and A Guide to the Odyssey: A Commentary on the English Translation of Robert Fitzgerald (1993). He has been published widely, with articles on Vergil, Horace, Goethe, Verdi and a variety of topics in medieval Latin in journals such as Modern Language Notes, Helios, Classical Philology, Yale Journal of Criticism and the Cambridge Opera Journal.


Spanish Professor Ilan Stavans To Ask “Who Owns the English Language?” at Amherst College March 29

March 3, 2006
Director of Media Relations

AMHERST, Mass.—Ilan Stavans, the Lewis-Sebring Professor of Latin American and Latino Culture and Five College Fortieth Anniversary Professor at Amherst College, will deliver the inaugural 2006 Jackie M. Pritzen Lecture, to celebrate 40 years of the Five College consortium, at 4:30 p.m. on Wednesday, March 29 in the Cole Assembly Room (Red Room) in Converse Hall at Amherst College. His talk, titled “Who Owns the English Language?” and sponsored by Five Colleges, Inc., is free and open to the public.

A member of the Amherst faculty since 1993, Stavans is also author of Growing up Latino (1993), The Hispanic Condition (1995), The Oxford Book of Jewish Stories (1998), On Borrowed Words (2001), The Poetry of Pablo Neruda (2003) and most recently Dictionary Days (2005.) Stavans has published the first dictionary of Spanglish, titled Spanglish: The Making of a New American Language (2003), and has debated in public the role language plays in public life and civic affairs for African Americans, Latinos and other immigrant groups. Editor of the new Encyclopedia Latina, Stavans also published a selection of the interviews that he conducted on Conversations with Ilan Stavans on the WGBH (PBS) program La Plaza. He is the editor of the forthcoming Norton Anthology of Latino Literature.

Austin Sarat, the William Nelson Cromwell Professor of Law, Jurisprudence and Social Thought and Five College Fortieth Anniversary Professor at Amherst College, will give the second 2006 Jackie M. Pritzen Lecture on Wednesday, May 3.