Ford School faculty member, alum join White House College Opportunity Day of Action

December 4, 2014

Professor Susan Dynarski and alum Brandy Johnson (MPP ‘09) traveled to Washington, DC for the Obama Administration’s College Opportunity Day of Action on December 4, 2014. They joined President Barack Obama, the First Lady, and Vice President Biden, along with hundreds of college presidents and higher education leaders, as the White House announced new steps to enhance college readiness and access, particularly for low-income students.

College changes lives, Tweeted Dynarski, a first generation college student herself, from the seventh row of the summit. My dad was a high school dropout, she wrote, but I went to Harvard and MIT, and am now representing the University of Michigan at this White House summit.

Dynarski is a nationally recognized leader in higher education policy. She co-directs the Ford School’s Education Policy Initiative, writes for The New York Times about student loans, higher education financing, and college ratings; and has introduced policy proposals designed to enhance college access for low-income students. In recent months, Dynarski has been invited to Washington, DC on a number of occasions to brief federal policymakers including Arne Duncan, secretary of the U.S. Department of Education, and Sarah Bloom Raskin, deputy secretary of the U.S. Department of Treasury.

Ford School alumna Brandy Johnson is executive director of the Michigan College Access Network (MCAN), a not-for-profit that works to increase college readiness, participation, and completion in Michigan, particularly among low-income students, first-generation college going students, and students of color. MCAN announced measurable goals for expanding college access including increased college application rates, increased FAFSA application rates, and increased numbers of schools and students served by college access professionals.

"MCAN is thrilled to participate in such collaborative, constructive conversations with a president who shares our vision for expanded college access," Johnson said in an MCAN press statement released on the day of the summit. "Today marks an important step for leaders and groups across the country to commit to expand college access and opportunity."

In conjunction with the summit, the University of Michigan also announced a number of new initiatives designed to double the number of STEM majors in the College of Literature, Science, and the Arts (see page 131).