The O'Grady library
December 4, 2014

Saint Martin’s University President Roy F. Heynderickx, Ph.D., today joined President Obama, the First Lady, and Vice President Biden, along with hundreds of college presidents and other higher education leaders, to announce new actions to help more students prepare for and graduate from college.

The White House College Opportunity Day of Action helps to support President Obama’s commitment to partner with colleges and universities, business leaders and nonprofits to support students across the country to help our nation reach its goal of leading the world in college attainment.

In response to the President’s call to action, Saint Martin’s University has committed to launching a series of initiatives that will result in an increase in admittance and retention of women, low-income students and under-represented minority students in STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) degrees by 5-10 percent. The initiatives include partnering with the Boys and Girls Clubs of Thurston County in delivering monthly STEM workshops on campus and adding more active learning models and student research experiences to our STEM programs.

“This new commitment in making the attainment of a college education possible for many more students truly underscores our mission as a Catholic, Benedictine institution of higher education to empower students to pursue a lifetime of learning and accomplishment in all arenas of human endeavor,” Heynderickx said. “We want to continue to help all of our current and future students to learn to make a positive difference in their lives and in the lives of others.”

Today’s participants were asked to commit to new action in one of four areas: building networks of colleges around promoting completion, creating K-16 partnerships around college readiness, investing in high school counselors as part of the First Lady’s Reach Higher initiative and increasing the number of college graduates in the fields of science, technology, engineering, and mathematics.

The President will announce new steps on how his administration is helping to support these actions, including announcing $10 million to help promote college completion and a $30 million AmeriCorps program that will improve low-income students’ access to college. Today’s event is the second College Opportunity Day of Action, and will include a progress report on the commitments made at the first day of action on January 14, 2014.

Expanding opportunity for more students to enroll and succeed in college, especially low-income and underrepresented students, is vital to building a strong economy and a strong middle class. Today, only 9 percent of those born in the lowest family income quartile attain a bachelor’s degree by age 25, compared to 54 percent in the top quartile. In an effort to expand college access, the Obama administration has increased Pell scholarships by $1,000 a year, created the new American Opportunity Tax Credit worth up to $10,000 over four years of college, limited student loan payments to 10 percent of income, and laid out an ambitious agenda to reduce college costs and promote innovation and competition.

Saint Martin’s University is an independent, four-year, coeducational university located on a wooded campus of more than 300 acres in Lacey, Washing¬ton. Established in 1895 by the Catholic Order of Saint Benedict, the University is one of 14 Benedic¬tine colleges and universities in the United States and Canada, and the only one west of the Rocky Mountains. Saint Martin’s University prepares students for successful lives through its 25 majors and seven graduate programs spanning the liberal arts, business, education, nursing and engineering. Saint Martin’s welcomes nearly 1,200 under¬graduate students and 323 graduate students from many ethnic and religious backgrounds to its Lacey campus, and 350 more students to its extended campuses located at Joint Base Lewis-McChord, Centralia College and Tacoma Community College.

For additional information:

Genevieve Canceko Chan
Vice President, Office of Marketing and Communications

Meg Nugent Dwyer
Media relations manager