Posse program makes Centre more diverse
RELEASED: October 11, 2007
Top-flight students chosen from the Boston area have helped develop a more diverse student body here at Centre.
"I think the Posse program is a huge step forward for Centre," says Beau Weston, N.E.H. Professor of Sociology and faculty mentor to Centre's first Posse group. "It's already brought us leaders from a part of the country where we wouldn't have had similar success if we were working only on our own.
"Boston is so diverse that we've been blessed with groups that are varied in ethnicity, native country, religion, region and urban experience," Weston adds. "The experience of Posse at other colleges is that the scholars are good leaders of existing programs, and they invent many new ones. Posse Scholars shake things up. That's already happening at Centre and will continue to happen as our Posses mature."
During 2006-2007, the inaugural academic year for Posse at Centre, nine Posse students joined the College's population. An additional 10 first-year students have been enrolled for 2007-2008.
"Centre is the smallest college affiliated with the Posse Foundation, so the impact of each Posse member is greater for us," Weston says.
Rick Axtell, associate professor of religion and college chaplain, is the faculty mentor for the second group of Posse students at Centre.
"The Posse program is a unique and successful way to foster broadened access to education while enriching the cultural and academic life of small liberal arts colleges like Centre," Axtell says. "Already, the presence of our two Posse groups is bringing new energy to discussions of diversity on our campus. On a personal note, I've found the relationships with the 10 amazing individuals in Centre Posse 2 to be among the most rewarding experiences I've had in my 12 years at Centre. I can't wait to see the impact they'll have on our campus."
The rationale for the Posse Foundation is described on the organization's web site (http://www.possefoundation.org/ ) as follows: "As the United States becomes an increasingly multicultural society, Posse believes that the leaders of this new century should reflect the country's rich demographic mix and that the key to a promising future for our nation rests on the ability of strong leaders from diverse backgrounds to develop consensus solutions to complex social problems. One of the primary aims of the Posse Program is to train these leaders of tomorrow."
And now Deborah Bial, president and founder of The Posse Foundation, has been awarded a MacArthur "Genius" Fellowship from the Chicago-based John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation. She will receive a $500,000 "no-strings-attached" grant to support her work over the next five years.
Bial's MacArthur "Genius" Award will go a long way toward achieving the organization's goals.
"It's an incredible gift," Bial says in a press release. "It will change my life, and I hope it will change Posse's life."
Bial founded Posse in 1989 because of a student who said that he would never have dropped out of college if he had had his posse--or group of close friends--with him. These comments inspired Bial to envision and create Posse: a program that identifies, recruits and trains dynamic urban public high school students and sends them to elite colleges and universities in multicultural teams, or posses. Posse Scholars are awarded full-tuition, four-year scholarships from Posse partner colleges and universities.
Since its inception, Posse has placed nearly 2,000 students from six cities--Atlanta, Boston, Chicago, Los Angeles, New York, Washington, D.C.--at 28 colleges and universities. Most impressive, these students are persisting and graduating at a rate above 90 percent--well above the national average.
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Founded in 1819, Centre College is ranked among the U.S. News top 50 national liberal arts colleges. Consumers Digest ranks Centre No. 1 in educational value among all U.S. liberal arts colleges. Centre alumni, known for their nation-leading loyalty in annual financial support, include two U.S. vice presidents and two Supreme Court justices. For more, visit http://www.centre.edu/web/elevatorspeech/
For news archives go to http://www.centre.edu/web/news/newsarchive.html.
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