Blog - Category: Academics

Private Colleges Team Up with Harvard Business School Online to Create Unique Hybrid Learning Program

Michigan Colleges Alliance (MCA) is collaborating with Harvard Business School (HBS) Online to offer students at participating MCA campuses a blended learning program, and an opportunity to earn an HBS Online course credential. In the first phase, nearly 70 students from five MCA member colleges and universities completed the HBS Online’s Sustainable Business Strategy course in the spring.

“When we built this course, one of my hopes was that it could be utilized to educate young people about the important role that business has in tackling some of the challenging issues of our time,” said Harvard Business School Professor Rebecca Henderson . “The students and faculty from the MCA campuses who participated in this pilot are pioneers, and I look forward to seeing how they will apply the learnings from our course in their own communities.”

The participating colleges created a blended learning offering where students registered for the “sustainable business” course led by local faculty and featuring the HBS Online course led by Professor Henderson. Students then applied their learnings through projects with businesses that were facing sustainability challenges, including Wolverine Worldwide, Merrill, Adrian Steel and Thetford Corporation.

“This was by far the most interactive course I have ever taken,” said Mya Oleksiak , a sophomore at Adrian College . “I loved that the modules and field work put me in real-life situations, and the meetings with my professor and classmates tied it all together. It was a privilege to be part of it.”

“This was a huge opportunity to reinforce what I learned as a Sustainable Business major and to take it into the real world,” said Tyson Marsh , a senior at Aquinas College . “The conversations with people in my group, from Bangladesh and Australia , helped me see different ways to apply and approach sustainability, and it is really amazing to be able to help a big global company like Wolverine solve a real sustainability problem.”

“The HBS pilot is a perfect illustration of why MCA has become a national leader in private higher education collaboration,” said MCA President Robert Bartlett . “It embedded content from the most prominent business education brand and a global learning network into existing classes offered by our member campuses. It then connected student classroom experiences to real projects in local communities. This best practice, active pedagogy model has produced tangible outcomes for both students and local businesses throughout the state.”

MCA plans to extend the program with another Sustainable Business Strategy offering in the spring and other HBS Online courses in the future. MCA represents 14 of the top independent colleges and universities in Michigan. Participating colleges included Adrian College, Albion College, Andrews University, Aquinas College, and Spring Arbor University.

Detroit Mercy Civil Engineering student one of eight in U.S. invited to Washington, D.C., legislative fly-in

Emma Hagel is passionate about the public policy concepts involved in civil engineering. University of Detroit Mercy’s educational environment — from encouraging professors to an array of professional opportunities — helped that passion blossom into a life-changing experience.

Hagel, a senior studying civil engineering at Detroit Mercy, recently participated in a legislative fly-in for the American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE). This annual public policy program in Washington, D.C., — called a “fly-in” for the primary method of transportation to attend the event — provided Hagel an opportunity to combine public policy and civil engineering, network with professional engineers and engage elected officials on infrastructure issues.

But the overall experience proved to be much more — she says it has opened a new professional door.

Rather than work in engineering as planned, she has decided to pursue a legislative career and hopes to further her education through public policy master’s programs.

“I believe that Detroit Mercy encourages students to pursue interests outside of their field to create well-rounded professionals,” said Hagel, whose English literature and philosophy minors embody just that. “Because of the learning environment at Detroit Mercy, I felt comfortable and encouraged to look into the policy side of engineering and to pursue this opportunity.”

Representing Detroit Mercy in the nation’s capital, Hagel was just one of eight students throughout the country selected to participate in the fly-in and the lone student in Michigan’s five-person delegation. She interacted with an array of people, from engineers who share similar passions to politicians, including her congressman, U.S. Rep. Andy Levin (D-Bloomfield Township).

The purpose of this year’s fly-in, Hagel said, was to lobby elected officials “to act on our nation’s infrastructure funding crisis.”

“We advocated for an increase in the federal gas tax and the approval of infrastructure-related, fiscal year 2019 appropriations,” she said.

During the first day of the event, attending delegations underwent lobbying training sessions and learned about ASCE’s stance on infrastructural issues. By the second day, state delegations were prepared to make congressional visits and present information to legislators and their staff.

Hagel has taken full advantage of Detroit Mercy’s extracurricular offerings, which led to her participation in the event. She finds herself ingrained in student life, holding leadership roles in three organizations—president of the Society of Women Engineers, vice president of ASCE — both Detroit Mercy chapters — and captain of ASCE’s concrete canoe team.

Hagel discovered the event through ASCE government relations emails and was urged to apply by James Lynch and Utpal Dutta, professors of Civil, Architectural and Environmental Engineering at Detroit Mercy.

“The unique environment they have created for civil engineering students at Detroit Mercy has helped me succeed academically and professionally,” Hagel said.

ASCE offers a limited amount of travel grants to help offset costs for fly-in participants. Hagel received one of those grants; the civil engineering department helped cover the rest of the costs.

Hagel’s experience with the event goes well beyond her two days in Washington — it has changed her perspective on civil engineering and paved the way to a boundless future.

“While one can design and implement infrastructure while working in the private or public sector, all projects rely on government funding,” she said. “The way one can create the biggest impact on our nation’s infrastructure is by implementing policy that adequately funds the repair, replacement and creation of it.”

To learn more about Detroit Mercy’s College of Engineering & Science, please visit https://eng-sci.udmercy.edu/index.php.

The Places You’ll Go: Greenhalgh Gift Opens Travel Possibilities to More Albion College Students

There is an incredible world out there ready to be explored and experienced for the college student willing and eager to find it. And nothing should stand in their way.  The new Albion College Stephen I., ’74, and Susan Brochu Greenhalgh, ’75, Endowed Student Experience Fund will help make that happen.  The $250,000 gift will support travel costs for students with financial need who wish to participate in faculty-sponsored academic trips.

“The stigma that attaches to students who can’t go because of financial issues, that bothered me,” said Greenhalgh, a Pontiac native who earned his bachelor’s degrees at Albion in anthropology and sociology, then earned his law degree from Washington & Lee University in Virginia in 1977. “Other students would come back to class and talk about their experiences and there were students who couldn’t go. I thought the stigma was very unfortunate.”

The gift is intended for travel only when a faculty member is present and purely for academic purposes. It should benefit multiple students each year.

Now retired and living in Boulder, Colo., after a career with the Bodman Law Firm in Detroit (where he was a corporate attorney for the Detroit Lions among other clients), Greenhalgh was first intrigued by the idea of helping deserving students on faculty-sponsored travel several years ago after talking with Albion religious studies Professor Jocelyn McWhirter, who for years has sponsored the biennial Holocaust Studies Service-Learning Project trip to Poland.

But there were other faculty-student events as well, including First-Year Seminar trips and the yearly excursion for the Center for Sustainability and the Environment, Greenhalgh noted.

“There were students who were missing out,” he said.

When McWhirter learned what the Greenhalghs were working on to help these students, she was pleased.

“It broadens their horizons,” she said. “I think these trips take students into an unfamiliar world. And when they enter an unfamiliar world, whether it’s in the U.S. or a destination outside the U.S, I think it gives them a new perspective on the world. It fosters skills of adjusting to another culture, adjusting to how to move within another culture, even learning a strange language. I think in the case of my trip, and other trips, it introduces students to new people and new history.”

And that’s exactly what the Greenhalghs were hoping for with this fund.

“This does two things,” said Greenhalgh, who has also served for 11 years as a member of the College’s Board of Trustees. “It helps the faculty and it provides more immediate opportunities for students from less affluent families. And I hope it provides life experiences by going to places like Europe and Africa for students who otherwise might not have that opportunity. It all falls under the rubric of experiential learning, and I believe that experiential learning can make all the difference in a liberal arts education.”

And not only will the new gift sustain current travel projects, it could lead to opportunities for more trips to different areas for more students.

“It’s great for students who don’t have the money,” McWhirter said. “These trips are an experience that can’t be had by staying where you are.”

Hope College Formula Racing Team in Top 20 Percent Worldwide

The student-run Hope College Formula Racing Team is in the top 20 percent worldwide in the FSAE rankings posted earlier this year.

Hope College ranked 107th out of 601 teams globally, including 26th out of 145 teams from the United States.  Most of the teams are from comprehensive or technical universities — first on the list, for example, is the Universitaet Stuttgart in Germany.

“This is momentous for not only our team but also for our school,” said freshman team member Austin Cortes of Gurnee, Illinois.  “We are one of two liberal arts colleges in the competition, so we are a true underdog story.”

Looking forward, the team is preparing for this year’s competition at Michigan International Speedway, which will be held on May 8-11 with an estimated 120 teams participating.

Hope first participated in Formula SAE in 2010, competing with more than 100 teams from around the world at MIS.  The college returned to MIS in 2016, and also competed at Lincoln, Nebraska, in 2018.

Hope’s team placed 76th out of 102 teams in 2010, winning the William C. Mitchell Rookie Award in 2010 for having achieved the highest overall score among first time teams, and finished 77th out of 115 teams in 2016.  Hope also finished 11th in the international Formula SAE Lincoln 2018 competition in Nebraska out of 80 teams.  Also in 2018, Hope finished first out of 10 Great Lakes FSAE teams at the 2018 Lawrence Tech Grand Prix, and had the 49th fastest time out of 1,375 entries in the SCCA Solo Nationals autocross held in Lincoln, Nebraska.

The concept behind Formula SAE is that a fictional manufacturing company has contracted a design team to develop a small Formula-style race car.  The prototype car is to be evaluated for its potential as a production item. Each student team designs, builds and tests a prototype based on a series of rules whose purpose is to provide standards while promoting clever problem solving.

The Formula SAE competition is not just a race.  Instead, the teams are evaluated in a series of static and dynamic events, including presentation, design, cost analysis, acceleration, cornering ability, maneuverability and handling, fuel economy and endurance.

The international Formula SAE organization provides a variety of design parameters within which the participants must work, but beyond that the teams make their own decisions.  Some of the parts are pre-fabricated, like the 600cc Honda motorcycle engine that provides the power. Others — like the frame itself — have been developed by the group, starting with initial concept, and then moving through design and theoretical testing using the computer and ultimately to fabrication and construction.

Although it may seem that the team would be geared toward engineering majors, the Hope College Formula Racing Team is open to any student and other majors through the years have included communication, business, computer science, exercise science, management and religion.

When is the best time to visit colleges?

(Albion College, voted 12th Most Beautiful College in Winter)

It’s winter, and the tundra is setting in – at least it is here in Michigan. The last thing you are thinking about is planning a trip to visit campuses. Those long walks across snow-covered quads are certainly less appealing when the temperatures are teetering at the same level as the number of layers you’ll be wearing to stay warm. Or maybe you are a freshman or sophomore, and it’s just “not time yet.”

So, “When is the best time to visit?”  The answer may not be what you expect.  Here are some tips for getting the most out of campus visits:

Time of year:
As summer strolls in and the school year winds down, families across the country are gearing with plans to visit college campuses. Tours are crowded, staff is minimal, and quads are relatively barren. Although the summer months are more convenient for your time, ideally you should try to plan your visits when classes are in session and the campuses are full of life.  Think of it like trying on a pair of new shoes: do you get the proper assessment while sitting? No, you get up, walk around, and perhaps jog in them… as it should also be done visiting campuses. Simulate the day-to-day as if you are attending the school. It doesn’t necessarily mean go in the dead of winter, but consider this: it may be cold, but it’ll also be cold while you attend, won’t it?

Age of student:
It can be very rewarding to visit colleges and universities before your junior and senior year (read: before it’s decision time). You are less concerned about choosing and “buying” when you are simply “window shopping” and more interested in checking out the inventory. Expose yourself to as many different kinds of places—big schools, small schools, research universities, liberal arts colleges, urban campuses, places way out in the country—to develop a broad perspective of all the different options. Then, when it is time to make a decision, you’ll have a better foundation on which to choose.

Before stepping foot on the first campus (and each one after that…):
Your new mantra: Relax, enjoy, decide later. Resist the impulse to judge immediately, good or bad. Your first reaction is bound to be emotional, and usually overly positive—college is really cool! Sleep on it. Weigh your impressions against the other schools you visit and try to remain as objective as possible so your rose-colored glasses don’t allow you to overlook things.

How to choose:
As you visit the campuses, allow your senses to guide you. Really like something? Take note of it. Feel like something’s missing? Take note of it. Gut instinct is usually pretty accurate. Additionally, the perceptions from your visits will come in handy when completing your college applications. Remember this: tying personal experience to the campus environment will blow the minds of the admissions department!

What to look for:
Focus on fit. We perform at our best when we have a level of comfort, belonging, and value. Questions to ask yourself: How does the college meet my academic needs? Will I be challenged appropriately? Is the style of instruction a good match for how I learn? Does the college offer a community that makes me feel “at home?” Does the college offer extracurricular activities that interest me?

After the visit, before you leave:
Connect with the recruiter. Colleges and universities typically assign admissions personnel to different areas of the country for recruiting efficiency. If your area’s recruiter is available, definitely introduce yourself. Either way, get that person’s contact information. Consider him/her as your “go to” person when you have important questions later in the admissions process. And remember this: there is nothing insignificant nor too embarrassing to ask. The admissions staff is there to help!

What to do next:
Record your visit. Make notes as soon as you are able. The more campuses you visit, the more they will begin to blend together, especially from memory. Take pictures to give yourself a visual index of what you’ve seen to avoid confusion later.

And finally:
Enjoy the process. It can be easy to get lost in the excitement and have that energy turn into anxiety. Relax. Start the search early. Visit during the school year to witness the campus’s true environment. Trust your senses and take notes.

As you map your college visit road trip, include a few of Michigan’s top 14 private colleges and universities on your list. These schools are purposefully smaller and emphasize “community over crowds.” Often comparable in cost to Michigan’s public institutions, the independents boast higher four-year graduation rates, outstanding faculty who help students forge their own paths, and smaller class sizes for a truly unique and personal experience.

Be bold. Be different. Go independent.

Major Gift to Albion College Will Transform U.S. Pre-Medical Education

The Wilson Institute for Medicine, created through a $5.1 million gift from Lisa and James Wilson, ’79 ’77, will empower faculty across disciplines to meet head-on the rapidly evolving medical-school landscape.

Through updates and enhancements to the curriculum, Albion will be at the vanguard of American pre-med programs.

 

With medical education’s significant changes in the 21st century—recalibrating to give increased emphasis to the discipline’s universal human and social aspects—there is growing concern in the field that the core pre-medical curriculum, virtually unchanged for decades, must similarly adapt.

Some say the need is urgent. And a major gift to Albion College will put the liberal arts institution out in front nationally, leading the way in closing the undergraduate preparation gap.

In what amounts to a $5.1 million statement, Dr. James Wilson, ’77, and Lisa Wilson, ’79, have established the Lisa and James Wilson Institute for Medicine at Albion College. It’s the largest gift by an individual or couple in the history of the College, which quickly has seen a distinct goal emerge on campus as it forms plans and action steps for the months and years ahead.

“It’s time for us to once again take the lead in innovating pre-medical education,” said Dr. Mauri Ditzler, president of Albion College. “Medical schools have changed dramatically in the last decade. We need to make certain that pre-medical education keeps up with that. We’ve always been a leader in this field; it’s time for us to be a role model.”

An evolution from the former Institute for Healthcare Professions, the Wilson Institute for Medicine will rethink and advance undergraduate teaching and preparation so that all Albion students who aspire to become physicians can realize their dreams in a fast changing medical-education environment. Through updated and more pertinent pre-med and pre-health coursework, Albion students will have a competitive advantage in gaining entrance to top-tier medical schools and in their overall career paths.

“People have been thinking about this idea for a while, but no one has really tackled it yet,” said Dr. Bradley Rabquer, associate professor of biology and director of the Wilson Institute for Medicine. “As the MCAT has changed, as medical schools have revamped their curricula, there is this large gap at the pre-med side, in the undergraduate curriculum. So we’re really striking while the iron is hot. The opportunity now is great.”

Increasingly, medical schools are incorporating patient care and interaction—traditionally the focus of the later clinical years—into the curriculum’s first two years, which previously had been dominated by “heavy, hard sciences” according to Rabquer. Today, he said, “there is more exposure to patients earlier, an emphasis on caring for people right at the start.”

This fall, a group of 10 faculty from the departments of Anthropology and Sociology, Biology, Chemistry, Mathematics and Computer Science, Physics and Psychological Science will review changes in medical school curricula, read current literature on some of the resulting outcomes, and begin to merge those findings with current best practices in undergraduate teaching. Following that pedagogical groundwork, the professors will move into course development in the winter and spring, Rabquer said, “so that we can roll out some new integrated, novel courses in time for the fall 2019 semester.”

The Institute, and Albion’s intentions, are already being noticed at the medical-school level.

“The practice of clinical medicine has changed dramatically in the last 20 to 30 years,” said Dr. James Woolliscroft, professor of medicine and former dean of the University of Michigan Medical School. “And yet when you think about the whole preparation that students go through in their undergraduate years, it hasn’t changed that much. Prerequisites to most medical schools have remained essentially constant for over a hundred years despite dramatic changes in the practice of medicine and the scientific basis thereof.

“It’s very timely that this is being looked at and readdressed,” Woolliscroft continued. “I see Albion leading what will hopefully be a national movement of liberal arts colleges who are intent on preparing their students not for the past, but for the future.”

The gift follows several years of conversation between Albion faculty and the Wilsons, acknowledging a gap that appeared to be widening in the discipline and tapping into their passions and expertise to do something about it.

“We’re at a time in the whole ecosystem of medical schools and colleges and residency programs where this kind of change would be welcome,” said Dr. Wilson, Rose H. Weiss Orphan Disease Center director’s professor and director of the gene therapy program at the University of Pennsylvania’s Perelman School of Medicine. He received his M.D. and Ph.D. from the University of Michigan after graduating Phi Beta Kappa with a B.A. in chemistry from Albion. “I’m confident that the Albion College community will have the resolve and the agility to be able to move in this very different and transformative direction.”

“Over the years, I’ve gotten to know many of the students Jim has taught who have worked in his lab, and I saw their struggles and I saw how difficult it was for them,” said Lisa Wilson, who after receiving her B.A. in economics and management from Albion worked in hospital administration for a number of years. “What I hope the Institute accomplishes is that every pre-med student at Albion College who qualifies and works really hard reaches their dream to become a doctor.”“Our hope,” Jim added, “is that with the kind of resources we can bring and leverage to bring in other resources, we can enable this to happen.”

And Albion College, its president added, is the ideal place to fulfill the vision.

“A liberal arts college like Albion is nimble. We can make changes in a year or two that a bigger institution might take a decade to accomplish,” said Ditzler, himself a chemist by training. “The innovative work we’re doing in pre-medical education through the Wilson Institute should not be underestimated. This is a fundamental change in the way we and others will think about preparing students to become doctors. But it’s something that we’re well prepared for. The faculty and staff from all over the institution, as well as our alumni, are committed to making this work.”

How Michigan colleges and Google are Reinventing Classroom Learning

When Alma College Professor Anthony Collamati sat down with all the students in his winter semester Media Theory and Culture class for the first time, the course was almost over.

You read that right.

Collamati was part of a revolutionary pilot program led by the Michigan Colleges Alliance that allowed students at Alma, Albion and Calvin colleges to take courses at member campuses using video conferencing technology from Google and interactive 55-inch “jamboards” to communicate.

That means Collamati had seven students in a classroom at Alma, six Albion undergraduates dialed in from their campus and three from Calvin attending from Grand Rapids.

The collaboration between the Michigan Colleges Alliance — a group of 14 of Michigan’s best private colleges and universities working together to provide opportunities for students in and outside of the classrooms — Google, which donated technology, and Steelcase, which outfitted learning environments for optimal communication, is the first-of-its-kind nationally.

The idea behind the interactive multi-campus class sharing is to maximize limited resources and provide students wider learning opportunities, said Michigan Colleges Alliance President Dr. Bob Bartlett.

“Nothing like this is happening in the country other than right here,” Bartlett said recently to students and instructors involved in the pilot. “It’s cutting edge. You’re a part of something brand new and it’s happening right here in Michigan and with Michigan Colleges Alliance.”

“We’re on to something that is going to have a national scope. I think that’s pretty exciting.”

Students agreed with Bartlett’s assessment.

Nichole Brown, an Albion junior studying math, was part of Collamati’s class. She registered for the section specifically to experience and learn the technology. Brown said any initial skepticism ended with the interactive nature and excitement of being part of something new.

“This is opening up opportunity for students to take classes we’ve never had access to and to be a part of something that’s never been done,” Nichole said. “Technology has such a wide range of applications in other fields that learning it now will benefit me later.”

The pilot was structured around three classes that are unique to the school or typically have lower student registrations. Bartlett said the courses, “Earth, Art and the Environment” offered through Albion, “Visual Sociology” through Calvin, and Collamati’s, were chosen to highlight that the program could tackle demanding topics.

Collamati described building a close connection to and between the students despite the distance between the campuses. He and the students had to lean-in and engage each other, developing seminar-style robust discussions. Each class session felt like an event, Collamati said.

“It supports the type of personalized teaching that we value and know is most valuable,” Collamati said.

Collamati reflected on the recent lunch at which he physically met two-thirds of his students, saying it didn’t feel like their first encounter.

“I knew their personalities just like I would if they had been sitting in front of me the entire semester,” he said.

The colleges are studying how to improve the experience while planning to expand the partnership in Fall 2018 to include seven classes. Roman Williams, a Calvin College sociology professor who taught one of the three pilot classes, said the evaluation will help all parties understand the program’s strengths and how it can develop.

“We have a hunch that there are two entirely different experiences when you’re in class and when you’re video-conferenced in,” he said. “What are those differences?  How did the student react and how did the professor adapt? I know, for me, the technology forced me to reinvent some of the ways I taught and I think it challenged everyone for the better.”

The second edition of the collaboration will focus on more traditional math and science courses to explore how the technology works in those arenas.

Bartlett praised the institutions for being innovative.

“Our presidents are really visionary and wanted to create something different, something exciting for students,” he said. “I’m amazed at the degree of collaboration that I’ve seen in this process. The way work gets done now is what our students are experiencing in the classroom. Everyone is working together to lay the tracks for our future.”

 

Michigan Colleges Alliance takes Second in Stryker Engineering Challenge.

Michigan Colleges Alliance (MCA) and its team of four engineering students finished second out of seven teams in the most recent Stryker Engineering Challenge. MCA competed against six teams from University of Notre Dame, Michigan Tech University, Western Michigan University, Miami University of Ohio, and Purdue University. Michigan Colleges Alliances beat out everyone, except for Michigan Tech University, who took first place in the competition.

Their team was a collective team of engineering students from two of their 14 schools, Andrews University and Calvin College. Levi Vande Kamp from Calvin College and Eric Anderson, Darrick Horton, and Justin Wiley from Andrews University made up the MCA team.

Gunnar Lovhoiden, a professor of engineering at Andrews University, supported the MCA team at the competition.

“I think our team worked really well together. Their design worked well and they represented MCA with honor. Second place—how about that,” says Lovhoiden.

This is the 8th year of the Stryker Engineering Challenge. The competition this year was held on March 22nd and 23rd.

 Left to right: Darrick Horton (Andrews), Eric Anderson (Andrews), Justin Wiley (Andrews), Levi Vande Kamp (Calvin). (Photo by Gunnar Lovhoiden, professor of engineering)

The Final Stretch: Tips to Finish your Winter Semester

After having a week off for Spring Break, experiencing a post Easter Sunday food coma, and with March Madness coming to an end, there’s not much left to distract you until the end of the semester. Which means you have only one choice: start studying for finals! <<Que the dramatic music “Dun-Dun-Duuuun!>>  It’s always hard to get back into a routine. At the end of your spring semester, it can be especially hard to regain focus. HELLO SUMMER! Here are a few tips to ensure you finish the semester strong and can fully enjoy your summer.

  1. Make a List

Sounds simple, but make a list of assignments and goals that are both personal and academic, and use that list to motivate you.

2. Plan

Planning your path can help you accomplish your goals strategically and manage your time efficiently. Most importantly, you won’t forget anything.

3. Reward yourself with some breaks

Celebrate your accomplishments. Treating yourself with study breaks to avoid information overload will keep you sane and motivated to work towards your goals.

4. Talk to your teachers

Its okay if you’re having trouble understanding some of your coursework or need some . Tap in to the great resource you have in your teachers.  Take the time to talk to them and ask for instruction and guidance. They are there to help you and will appreciate the effort on your end.

Follow these tips and we’re sure you’ll feel like this by the end of the semester:

Be bold. Be different. Go independent.

Michigan Colleges Alliance Awards $32,500 as Part of Independent InnovatorsNetwork Scholarship

Michigan Colleges Alliance (MCA), an organization made up of 14 independent colleges and universities across Michigan, has recently awarded $32,500 in scholarships to six recipients through its Independent InnovatorsNetwork. Recipients consisted of students from Hillsdale College, Aquinas College, Kalamazoo College, Spring Arbor University, and Albion College.

The Independent Innovators Network awards scholarships based on the strength of student applications outlining a business or social entrepreneurship concept. The program first received funding from the Council of Independent Colleges, ranking first among some 20 states competing for grant support in a national RFP.

The Independent Innovators Network, with national and statewide support, is quickly becoming a leading MCA initiative, positioning private, liberal arts students and graduates at the forefront of entrepreneurship and economic development in Michigan. Substantial funding for the program comes from The Jandernoa Foundation, Ford Motor Company Fund, Armstrong International, and Enterprise.

This is the third round of the scholarship competition. Any student attending one of the 14 member colleges and universities of Michigan Colleges Alliance can apply. The most recent competition received 25 applicants across 11 schools, and a total of six winners were awarded a scholarship for their innovative ideas. Scholarships awarded ranged from $2,500 to $7,500. Scholarships through the Independent Innovative Network vary and are given based on multiple factors. Funding, the number of submissions and quality of submissions affect the number of recipients and the amounts given. A steering committee of business leaders ultimately decides how the scholarships are awarded.

Recipients of the award were not the only ones who received an award. Faculty who sponsored winning students also received a $500 stipend for helping mentor and encourage students.

Michigan Colleges Alliance represents 14 independent colleges and universities throughout Michigan, and works to develop collective initiatives that produce positive student outcomes.

As part of its We Are The Independent’s collective promotional campaign, MCA launched the Independent Innovators Network to encourage students at its 14 member colleges and universities to be independent and to follow their own path. The program gives students at smaller schools the unique opportunity to create a culture of entrepreneurship within Michigan higher education, and to stimulate a flow of new product and business ideas in Michigan. The program supports MCA’s overall goal to align the preparation of its graduates with the future skills, qualities, and experiences needed for Michigan’s continued economic progress and success.

“The Independent Innovators Scholarship competition is one of many ways MCA cultivates college educated talent for our state and nation,” says MCA President Dr. Robert Bartlett. “Collectively, our members represent Michigan’s “third largest university,” with more than 41,000 students. This program gives students in all majors the opportunity to think, collaborate, and explore their futures as entrepreneurs.”

All entries are reviewed by MCA board members, scholarship donors, and representatives from partner entrepreneurial organizations across the state. This year’s review panel included representatives from Steelcase, Ford Motor Company, PVS Chemicals, ASG Renaissance, as well as MCA faculty.

The program plans to host the next round of the scholarship competition in fall 2018