Role of Higher Education in Detroit’s Revitalization

IMG_20130709_194637Detroit and its allies continue to strive for methods to remedy or at the very least mitigate the struggles that the city continues to face. In light of the city’s recent file for bankruptcy and its not-so-recent postindustrial hardships, community members turn to Higher Education as one of the ingredients for a better future for Detroit. Read more about this in The Chronicle of Higher Education‘s article, “Detroit, Bankrupt, Looks to Colleges as Partners in Recovery.” So, what do you think? What is the role of education in developing community or revitalizing Detroit?

Because The National Forum agrees that Higher Education certainly has a role in the restoration of Detroit, it has engaged initiatives such as the Building Our Leadership in Detroit (B.O.L.D.) project which provides consultation and research support for Marygrove College. This project ultimately aims to develop and support future leaders of the city who have potential for pushing social change. In addition, the Forum’s involvement in this feat  includes work with over 25 Local College Access Networks in the state meant to increase the number of students entering and graduating college.

Congratulations to Sean Eagle, Summer 2013 UROP Research Assistant at the Forum, on a successful poster presentation!

Sean Eagle,  the Forum’s Summer 2013 UROP student, presented his project poster recently on his work with uLEAD.  Over the course of the summer, Sean has researched the many problems that undocumented students face in Higher Education and it was this on which he presented on. 

What was your most memorable moment at the University of Michigan or the National Forum?My most memorable moment at the National Forum was John’s final meeting as Director of the Forum. People shared wonderful stories about John and there was a slide show with a very funny picture of him in Las Vegas. It was nice celebrating his legacy and seeing the position of Director being passed on to Betty.

What was your greatest achievement at the National Forum?

My greatest achievement at the National Forum was my presentation for UROP. I had been a part of and worked on many significant things relating to the uLEAD Network; however, this was something that showcased the culmination of all I had learned and worked on here at the Forum. I was able to present this to people who knew very little about the problems that undocumented students faced.

What was your biggest take away from the National Forum?
I have learned that it is best to create short-term, mid-term, and long-term goals to achieve a desired outcome. I have also realized that there are organizations out there like the Forum, where like-minded people can come together to tackle social issues found in our community.
What advice do you have for future students at the National Forum?
For future students, take the time to learn the culture here at the Forum. I have never been a part of an organization working for the better good of society. So, for someone completely new to this type of work environment, make sure to observe how the process works, the language used, and become familiar with things such as policies and practices relevant to whatever subject you are focused on.
What is your favorite part of the National Forum?
The people here are nice, genuine and very well-educated. It is great to work in an environment where everyone cares about the issues but also has a sense of humor.
What are your future plans and how did the National Forum contribute to that? 
My future plans are to transfer to a university, hopefully Michigan, and continue my education. The National Forum has made me consider a career that involves helping people on a larger scale, not so much on a case-by-case basis.
If there is one thing you’d like people to know about the National Forum, what would it be?
The people here are fun but professional. There is a lot of work done here at the National Forum and it is all for a good cause. 

Grading Higher Education Institutions by Their Contribution to the Public Good

grad caps - lineWashington Monthly magazine recently released its annual college rankings.  Now in its eighth year, what makes this ranking system unique from all others, is that the magazine rates colleges and universities on a very different scale than most other publications: they rate colleges and universities by their contribution to the public good.

How do they define the public good? “We give high marks to institutions that enroll low-income students, help them graduate, and don’t charge them an arm and a leg to attend.”

Why do they choose to rank institutions in this way? “We do this because everyone has a stake in the conduct of our colleges and universities.” We couldn’t agree more.

To read more about the magazine’s methodology, check out their introductory article to the rankings system here.

As an organization committed to advancing the role of higher education for the public good, we applaud the Washington Monthly for showcasing the role of higher education institutions in advancing social change and equity in education for all capable students.

Oh, and don’t forget to check out the latest rankings!

Legendary Musician, John Feldkamp, Ascends to Associate Director of the Honors College at EMU

FeldkampThe National Forum is proud to announce the advancement of John Feldkamp in his career as Associate Director of the Honors College at Eastern Michigan University. With his drive and devotion to higher education, he achieved a rapid ascension from his position as Assistant Director on the technical staff to the administrative position he holds today. Having graduated from Eastern Michigan with a Bachelor’s degree back in 2007, John is honored to be back and making change happen at his Alma Mater. Before taking EMU by storm, he served at the National Forum for a year and a half while attaining his Masters Degree in Higher Education from the University of Michigan.

How is the transition going from Assistant Director to Associate Director?

You know, the first time you do something you get to try it, the second time around you get to critique it, and the third time around you really try your best to perfect it. So that’s in terms of the transition, I’d say that that’s where I’ve transitioned to. Now, it’s more about developing a program and experiences…being an office that goes beyond academic advising.

What would you say is your favorite part about the job?

There’s a few, but if I had to pick one I would say that it’s in the moment when you’re meeting with a student and hearing what their interests are. Encouraging them to take a certain class or professor, then, when that students takes that class and comes back and they say they loved it or have that professor come back and say they’re fantastic, it puts you in a place like…an offensive linemen. They’re not in the spotlight of the quarterback but the performance of the line as a whole is based on you. Sometimes the student may not know that you had a role in something and the professor may not know, but the idea that you had that role is so self gratifying. I guess what I’m saying is I like having an influence under the radar.

Where do you see yourself in future with respect to Higher Education?

I’m thinking hard. I’m currently deciding on whether to remain in administrative staff for a while or go back to school and do a doctoral program and work my way through academic affairs. That’s kind of the fork in the road that I will see in the future.

How long were you at the National Forum and what was your focus while working there?

I was there for a year and a half. The question presented in the project I was a part of was along the lines of: How can we retain Michigan students in Michigan upon graduation? Reportedly, Michigan was losing intellectuals upon graduation but ideally it would be really great to retain the talent that has been invested in. So, John Burkhardt really wanted to find a link between student service or service form among college students and increased likelihood or odds of staying in Michigan. So, the research I did was a part of that overarching question.

What would you say was one thing you enjoyed about working for the National Forum?

I got the chance to work with great people. An example is John (Burkhardt). He’s passionate about the issues, makes it very personal, and instills this sense of altruism among the staff and students. He really does care about the things that he does. It’s very powerful when making things meaningful for everybody.

Anything you’d like to tell younger generations of students in education?

Be able to relate to people you don’t know. I enjoy what I do…I think it presents challenges and excitements every day. But, that’s important. And that’s important to know. I think it should be where every moment when you’re on the job it’s something special.

Legendary Musician Lori Hendricks named Athletic Director of Mount Holyoke

The National Forum is proud to announce that legendary musician, Lori Hendricks, has been named the new Athletic Director at Mount Holyoke.  Best of luck to Lori in her new position.  See more about this announcement here.

Nabih Haddad to present at Penn State today

Our Nabih Haddad to present today at @penn_state on Int’l Governance and Human Rights. 3-27 1:15 at 430 Burrowes.

Featured Article: Maryland’s own Dream Act

On Tuesday, November 6, 2012, Maryland voters passed Maryland’s own state based version the DREAM Act, an in state tuition referendum by 58 to 42 percent.  The Maryland Dream Act grants an in state tuition discount for undocumented students, who have grown up and graduated from high schools in the United States, to attend community colleges and public state universities at county and in-state costs.  The DREAM Act offers equal opportunities to undocumented students in higher education, which warrants new social and economic benefits for this population.  The DREAM Act currently stands in 12 states: Texas, California, Connecticut, Illinois, Utah, Nebraska, Kansas, New Mexico, New York, Washington, Wisconsin and Maryland.  As of November 6, 2012, Maryland became the only state to have passed the DREAM Act by ballot, a huge stepping-stone for undocumented students in the United States!

For a closer look at Maryland’s Dream Act, check out this article by Alexandra Tilsley:

Featured Article: New Scholarship Program for Undocumented Students in Higher Education

Recently, this article in the Charlotte Observer regarding a new scholarship program for undocumented students came to our attention. The news article discusses the inability of undocumented students to receive any federal financial aid because they are not American citizens. Because most of these students come from low income backgrounds, it is almost impossible for them to afford to continue their education.  This kind of donation, as mentioned in the article, opens the opportunity for talented undocumented students to reach their full potential. At the National Forum, we place great emphasis on access to higher education for all capable students. Scholarships such as these are one of the many ways in which higher education can become more attainable for a greater number of students.

To read the complete article about the newly established scholarship program, visit this link

For the last year, Raquel Welch-Johnson has been the National Forum’s Americorps member working in the Brightmoor neighborhood of Detroit.  Raquel has been working on numerous projects to build a college-going culture.  As Raquel completes her Americorps service, she says that leaving is bitter-sweet.  “It’s hard to believe that the year is already over.”

At Youthquake, a neighborhood block-party and her last event, Raquel could see the change that had occurred in just a short period of time.  “I saw the students from Marygrove College I had trained and knew that they were going out and doing good.  It made me proud.”  She can now see the impact her work has had in the community.  “This year has affirmed how important giving back to the community is,” Raquel says, and even though her year with the National Forum is over, she is still dedicated to helping youth.  “I still connect and mentor the students.  I can see the whole picture and how necessary that is.”

Even though most of her work was in Detroit, Raquel says that she still felt like the University of Michigan was her home.  “The Forum team I was on made it easy for someone like me to be apart but still feel connected.”  Anytime Raquel faced a problem or needed to brainstorm her National Forum team was always available.  “There are great ideas coming out of the Forum, bringing any problem to the team always helped; nothing is insurmountable.”

Even though Raquel has wrapped up her year with Americorp and the National Forum, she will continue to work in the community.  “My MMCCC position was life changing for me, so I would love to continue this work as a community activist.”  Raquel has already started her new role as a Community Engagement Specialist at Marygrove College working on their BOLD (Building Our Leadership in Detroit) initiative.  We wish her all the best!

National Forum Welcomes New Associate Director Betty Overton-Adkins

It is with great honor and enthusiasm that the National Forum welcomes its new Associate Director, Betty Overton-Adkins, Ph.D.  Dr. Overton-Adkins comes to us from Spring Arbor University, where she served as Provost of all academic affairs for a decade.  According to the National Forum Director, Dr. John Burkhardt, “Over two years ago I asked Betty if she would allow me to put her name forward for a position at the University of Michigan. Her commitment to Spring Arbor University and to her current position as provost was too important to her to even consider leaving then, but after much persuasion and giving Betty a chance to become increasingly familiar with our UM students and the work of the National Forum, she finally opened the door to a discussion of a new role on the CSHPE faculty. We could not be more thrilled that she will join us. Her knowledge of higher education and her relationships across the country are remarkable and her ability to draw out the best in everyone around her has been demonstrated in countless settings.”

Prior to her position at the National Forum, Dr. Overton-Adkins earned her doctorate in educational leadership from George Peabody College of Vanderbilt University.  She began her career as a public school teacher and has held positions as a professor, department chair, and Graduate Dean of credible public and private universities throughout the country.  Dr. Overton-Adkins is truly an activist for higher education, which is demonstrated through her participation in many credible organizations including the Higher Learning Commission of the North Central Association of Colleges and Universities (NCA), the board of the American Association of Higher Education & Accreditation (AAHEA), and the editorial board of Liberal Education, published by the Association of American Colleges and Universities (AAC&U).  She has been a member of the Board of the Council of Graduate Schools, the Fund for the Improvement of Postsecondary Education (FIPSE), and the Advisory Board of the Center for the Study of Higher Education at Pennsylvania State University.  Upon her arrival at the University of Michigan, CHSPE director, Dr. Michael Bastedo said, “Dr. Overton-Adkins has had an amazing career in higher education, and is a leading expert on many topics, including accreditation and academic leadership.  We are thrilled to welcome her to our community.”

Along with managing all community engagement initiatives at the National Forum, Dr. Overton-Adkins has brought two of her own projects.  The first is a FIPSE funded program through the Fuqua School of Business at Duke University, titled Ph. D. Pipeline Opportunity Program.  The program focuses on helping to increase the number of persons of color in Ph. D. programs and prepare them to become faculty in business.  Dr. Overton-Adkins is the project evaluator in this initiative, which began two years ago.  The second is a Kellogg Foundation funded program entitled BOLD (Building our Leadership in Detroit).  BOLD is a curriculum development program at Marygrove College focusing on integrating urban leadership concepts and activities throughout the curriculum and connecting the institution and its students to the urban issues within the Detroit community, especially those surrounding the college.  Dr. Overton-Adkins has been involved in this project for many years and will be assisted by Lara Kovacheff-Badke to further develop it here at the National Forum.

Upon her arrival at the University of Michigan and the National Forum, Dr. Overton-Adkins said, “I am delighted to be joining the National Forum and the Center for the Study of Higher and Postsecondary Education.  I could not think of a better place to be — a powerhouse for research by talented scholars, a place that honors good teaching and the preparation of future academic leaders, and people that care deeply about higher education’s impact in society.  What an opportunity!”  The National Forum team is thrilled about the opportunity to work with Dr. Overton-Adkins and welcomes her as a new colleague and leader.