Wesleyan President Michael Roth joined leaders from 100 universities and colleges and 40 nonprofit groups at the White House on January 16, to discuss how to promote greater access to higher education.

The event was part of an Obama administration initiative to help more students afford and graduate from college. The institutions represented at the event have all made commitments to programs that would increase access to students from historically underserved communities.

“At the summit, I learned that 90 percent of low-income people who get their BA will move out of poverty,” Roth said. “Access to education truly has an effect on inequality.”

He said that several discussions at the education summit revolved around college readiness, which he described as a critical piece of access.

“That means better K–12 systems,” Roth said. “But also, how can universities help with readiness? Universities should work closely with their local school districts.

“We do a lot (at Wesleyan), working with McDonough [elementary school] with Green Street Art Center. Wesleyan has lots and lots of people—faculty, students, and staff—working with local schools,” he said. “I’m wondering whether we couldn’t better coordinate our efforts to really have an impact on college readiness right in this area.”

To support the initiative, Wesleyan has:

• Committed to increasing the number of
QuestBridge scholars on campus. Quest-Bridge recruits low-income and first-generation college students, who receive full scholarships.

• Committed to expanding efforts to retain students from under-represented groups in STEM fields. These efforts include a new summer bridge program that would increase students’ success in STEM fields.

• Partnered with the Posse Foundation to admit 10 military veterans each year. On January 14, President Roth celebrated with the first “posse” admitted; they’ll join the Class of 2018 in September.

For a link to read the White House document on the event, which includes sections on each participating institution, go to