Archive for July 2015

Spring Arbor University Offers Scholarship to Help Homeless Man Fulfill Dreams

It’s a story straight out of Hollywood, by way of the Internet.

A Florida tourist takes a video of a homeless man playing Styx’s “Come Sail Away.” It’s breathtakingly beautiful. She puts it on Facebook. The Internet eats it up: In less than a month, the video has 12 million views on YouTube.

Now, Spring Arbor University is reaching out to the bearded mystery man to help him fulfill his dreams. The Michigan school is offering a full-ride music education scholarship, a gift worth $30,000 or more.

It turns out the homeless man, Donald Gould, 51, was a student at Spring Arbor in the 1990s. He was three credits shy of graduating when he dropped out, got married and watched his life fall apart.

First, his wife died in 1998. Then, he turned to substance abuse. So Social Services took away his son. Homelessness followed. His love of music never wavered.

As the story went viral, Spring Arbor officials got together. They knew what they had to do.

“Offering him the scholarship was an easy decision for us to make because of who we are,” Malachi Crane, vice president for enrollment and marketing at SAU, told USA Today.

“We have seen countless students and lives impacted by the transformational education we provide and know that Donald has a unique gift for music that he can use to change lives.”

The scholarship, quite simply, is “the right thing to do,” Crane said. But before Gould re-enrolls, he’s working on his sobriety and getting off the streets.

“He can complete his degree at a time in which he is ready,” Crane said, adding that Gould is getting help to stay on “the right path.”

The benevolence is typical of Michigan’s top 15 independent colleges and universities. Because helping students follow the right path and fulfill their passion is what they do.

All emphasize community over crowds and a spirit of togetherness and cohesion that just doesn’t exist at big state schools. With low class sizes and award-winning faculty, the schools are proud that students forge lifelong bonds with professors.

Often less expensive than public institutions, the independents boast higher four-year graduation rates for a truly unique and affordable experience.

Be bold. Be different. Go independent.

Pure love of sports fuels student athletes in Division III

It’s no secret college sports are big business. College football alone recorded more than $3.4 billion. That’s a hair less than the gross domestic product of the entire nation of Barbados.

It’s little wonder, then, that many folks are cynical about college sports. Some athletes don’t even pretend to be students. There’s one controversy after another, from recruiting and pay-to-play violations to players leaving after a few seasons for the pros.

There is a place, though, where college athletics are untainted. It’s Division III, some 440 colleges and universities nationwide where competition and tradition are just as fierce as bigger universities, but student athletes play for a novel motivation: The love of the game.

“Division III athletics is the purest form of intercollegiate competition,” according to Psychology Today.

“Student-athletes are truly students first. Players are talented, competitive, and driven, but also know that they are in school to pursue an education, prepare for a career, and to develop socially, physically, spiritually, and intellectually.”

NCAA regulations bar student-athletes from receiving athletic scholarships, but that doesn’t mean they don’t receive help. Division III colleges offer grants and other financial aid packages, so students often end up with a large portion of their tuition paid.

That’s particularly true at Michigan’s top 15 independent colleges and universities, where more than 95 percent of students receive aid – from leadership scholarships to academic fellowships to educational grants. That brings the costs of a world-class college within reach — a priceless education that is affordable.

And the rivalries, talent and level of competition at Division III? That’s the stuff of legend, especially among the seven Michigan colleges in the Michigan Intercollegiate Athletic Association.

Since 1990, the schools have won 18 Division III national titles. And few streaks in all of sports are as impressive as the Kalamazoo College men’s tennis team, which has won or shared every division championship since 1936, while Calvin College’s men’s cross country has won 21 straight division titles.

Calvin College and Hope College are such bitter foes that ESPN recently named it one of college basketball’s greatest rivalries. Kalamazoo College and Olivet College also have a deep rivalry that dates back decades.

College athletics is just one difference between big public institutions and Michigan’s top 15 independent colleges and universities.

All share a commitment to helping students succeed by following their own path. The colleges are smaller and emphasize community over crowds. Often less expensive than public institutions, the independents boast higher four-year graduation rates and smaller class sizes for a truly unique and affordable experience.

Be bold. Be different. Go independent.

Keegan-Michael Key’s Path to Stardom Began at University of Detroit Mercy

Keegan-Michael Key is on the kind of roll professional funnymen and actors can only dream about.

The “MadTV” alum and star of Comedy Central’s “Key & Peele” found himself onstage with President Obama this spring, serving as anger translator during the White House Correspondents’ Dinner. Key has had big roles in summer movies “Tomorrowland” and “Pitch Perfect 2” and has several big roles on tap.

Buzzfeed declared him “the most important comedian right now.”

That’s quite a feather in the cap for Key, who credits the University of Detroit Mercy’s acclaimed performing arts program with nurturing his love of performing and putting him on a path to success.

“I loved college,” Key told the Varsity News. “Especially with a liberal arts college, it’s there to teach you how to learn. I learned practical skills for what it was that I wanted to do for a living.”

He is one of several alums of the award-winning performing arts program. Others have appeared on Broadway, in movies such as “Spiderman” and on legendary TV shows such as “Seinfeld” and “Magnum PI.”

A Detroit native, Key considered many schools. He went to private high school and knew he wanted to act. He was drawn to UDM by its artistic director, David Regal, who helped hone his talents and work ethic.

“Like most students, he grew slowly,” Regal told Varsity News. “He did extra things that escalated his growth as an artist. He organized a once-a-week improv group on campus and ran it, which became wildly popular. He was aggressive in finding things to do in the art and pushing himself.”

Two decades after graduating in 1993, Key still visits the school and remains close to Regal.

Those sorts of relationships are the hallmark at Michigan’s top 15 independent colleges and universities.
The schools are guided by passion and community. Class sizes are small enough so students not only know their professors, they form lifetime bonds. Professors pride themselves on working closely with students to help them forge their own path, buck conventional wisdom and find a new way.

It’s an experience that simply isn’t available at traditional universities. And despite what you may have heard, independents are often less expensive and boast higher four-year graduation rates than four-year institutions.

Be bold. Be different. Go independent.

Marygrove College bucks convention, lowers tuition

It’s that time of year again. Colleges and universities are raising tuitions.

Big state schools say they have no choice as government support continues to decrease. Five percent one year. Eight percent the next. It’s been going for so many years that the cost of higher education has increased 538 percent since 1985.

That’s why Marygrove College made headlines — and turned heads — recently when it lowered tuition for a third of its students.

You read that right. The Detroit college dropped tuition 16.5 percent for part-time students.

“The whole question of affordability and access is huge nationally and it is exponentially so for us, because we serve so many students who have a disproportionately high need,” said Marygrove’s outgoing president, David J. Fike.

It may have been a shocking move. But it’s in line with the traditions and values at Michigan’s top 15 independent colleges and universities.

Keeping costs down and providing ample financial aid to students is just one of many differences with big public schools.

Almost all of Marygrove’s students who maintain B averages receive financial aid. It’s a similar story at most other Michigan independents, where more than 93 percent of students receive aid. That brings the costs of a world-class college within reach — a priceless education that is affordable.

Cost is just one of many differences. So are class sizes, which are significantly smaller. And relationships between students and professors, who actually teach classes rather than delegate them to post-graduate teacher assistants.

The schools value community over crowd, allowing students to forge their own path to success. And they boast graduation rates that are superior to big public universities.

Be bold. Be different. Go independent.

The Roundtable on Talent Brings Together Educators and Business Leaders


Another successful “Roundtable on Talent” is in the books. The Michigan Colleges Alliance hosted 40 business leaders and the college presidents from Michigan’s top 15 independent colleges and universities for series of discussions on the future of work and learning.

The group collaborated on ideas for keeping Michigan’s brightest minds working here in the state after graduation and shared best practices in higher education and corporate partnerships. Kevin Mulcahy, a nationally acclaimed futurist and consultant, facilitated the conversations and Kurt Darrow, the CEO La-Z-Boy, delivered an insightful keynote.

The initiative provides a forum for MCA campuses to better understand employer needs of recent college graduates, build relationships between Michigan employers and MCA institutions, and consider new approaches to prepare students and address those needs.

Special thanks to sponsors of this year’s event including Office Depot, Grand Hotel, Warner Norcross & Judd, Bon Appétit Management Company and Siemens.