There is a desperate need in America for colleges and universities to collaborate and address some of the major issues facing distressed school districts and their inability to produce graduates prepared for the rigors of higher education. Although there are many examples of college access centers in urban areas across the United States, what makes this one unique is the collaboration between six diverse colleges and universities who collectively decided to address the issue of providing greater access to college for children from underserved and disadvantaged populations.
Chester Higher Education Council (CHEC) was conceived by the presidents of Cheyney University, Delaware County Community College, Neumann College (now University), Penn State–Delaware County (now Brandywine), Swarthmore College, and Widener University, the center focuses on increasing the access of local high school students to earn a college degree.
The creation of CHEC and the College Access Center of Delaware County demonstrates successful collaboration between six very diverse colleges and universities. Without a doubt, the creation of similar organizations around the country would significantly benefit thousands of students from underperforming school districts. Unfortunately, institutions of higher education aren’t usually willing to collaborative with other colleges and universities and are viewed as competitors for students and scarce resources.
In his chapter Dr. Harris elaborates on the origins of CHEC; but more importantly, offers 3 key ingredients for its success. The model created by six diverse colleges and universities in southwestern Pennsylvania that are part of the Chester Higher Education Council is definitely one worthy of duplication and further study.
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