President McCartney to Represent Smith at White House Summit on College Opportunity

Editor’s note: For more information, please contact the White House Press Office.

Smith College President Kathleen McCartney will join President Obama, First Lady Michelle Obama, Education Secretary Arne Duncan and other college and university presidents at a Jan. 16 White House summit on access and success for low-income students.

The White House summit is the formal launch of President Obama’s second-term initiative to support academic access and completion and to make a college education affordable for all Americans.

At a 2013 speech at the University of Buffalo, Obama said, “At a time when a higher education has never been more important or more expensive, too many students are facing a choice that they should never have to make:  Either they say no to college and pay the price for not getting a degree — and that’s a price that lasts a lifetime.”

First Lady Michelle Obama has joined the initiative, working with the Education Department to increase the number of low-income students who pursue a college degree and move the United States from 12th to first in the world in the percentage of college graduates by 2020.

“Access to education is central to Smith’s mission and one of the most important policy issues of our time,” President McCartney said. “As much as we want to believe that demography is not destiny, we have seen economic inequality lead to education inequality across the United States. I am proud to lead an institution that holds access as a core value.”

Enrolling 2,600 students from every state and 66 other countries, Smith is the largest undergraduate women’s college in the country. Sixty-four percent of Smith students receive financial aid, an investment totaling $60 million per year. Twenty-two percent of Smith students receive federal Pell grants; 17 percent are the first in their families to go to college; 30 percent of the college’s students major in the sciences and engineering. In addition, the centerpiece of the college’s current $450M fundraising campaign is a $200 million goal for financial aid.