NU Releases Commitments for Expanding College Opportunity in Nebraska


University of Nebraska President James Milliken is attending a White House event hosted by President Barack Obama and first lady Michelle Obama to discuss ways to increase college opportunities.

Participating institutions have been asked to submit new commitments for expanding higher education opportunities for low-income and other traditionally under-represented people.

"Expanding affordable access to quality education is the University of Nebraska's highest priority. I'm very pleased that the White House has set a goal to ensure more Americans have the chance to attend and succeed in college," Milliken said.

"I hope the commitments we discuss today will have a lasting impact on American higher education," added Milliken, "because the future of Nebraska, and the country, depend on our ability to make sure college is accessible for every student who is qualified and wants to attend."

The university's new commitments were announced Thursday. They include making online courses available to more low-income, rural and first-generation college students; communicating with middle school students and their parents about college preparation; and increasing the number of low-income and first-generation students who participate in summer programs on NU campuses.

The University of Nebraska is planning to significantly expand its Nebraska Virtual Scholars Program, which offers high school courses such as Advanced Placement programs, STEM, and many other courses to mostly rural students.

The expansion would mean offering more high school courses as well as foundational courses for middle school students. The university says it will work with lawmakers to develop a funding model for the courses.

When reaching out to middle school students and their parents, the university says it wants to expand outreach efforts to include social and digital platforms. Additionally, the plan calls for utilizing other organizations that work with youth in outreach efforts; pairing university students with middle school students from their hometown; and developing materials for classrooms and after-school programs.

The university also is creating a new position of vice provost for P-16 initiatives. That position's responsibilities include directing an enhanced education and outreach effort to increase the number attending college.

Lastly, in attempts to expand summer programs for low-income and first-generation students, the university is looking to find ways to increase participation among those transitioning onto a college campus in "bridge" programs already being used.