“I GOOGLED THREE-YEAR DEGREES AND MANCHESTER COLLEGE kept coming up.
I’m doing a story on what colleges are doing to make school affordable in a down
economy and it looks like you’re the experts,” said the New York-based reporter
for The Associated Press.
Affordable and accessible college degrees are especially important to Manchester
College, which draws many of its students from struggling Indiana counties,
including Elkhart County – which President Obama chose for a February town hall
meeting because of its nation-high unemployment rate.
President Jo Young Switzer boldly speaks out in editorials and media interviews
about accountability and aff ordability in higher education. She continues to alert
politicians and pundits that most independent schools like Manchester are
continually self-evaluating and adjusting, drawing on her experience as an
accreditation evaluator for the Higher Learning Commission of the North Central
“If we focus on blame, we will miss a timely opportunity
to work together to make college affordable to more
students,” Switzer told readers of The Indianapolis Star.
“Colleges, families and the state and federal government
need to share this responsibility.”
President Switzer’s advocacy for independent colleges
found a place in the South Bend Tribune, The Journal
Gazette of Fort Wayne and in cover stories of such
magazines as University Business, American Executive and Advancing Women in Leadership.
In fall 2007, the College rolled out Fast Forward as a
way for highly motivated students to finish their degree
in any major within three years, without sacrificing any
of the opportunities that make a Manchester College
education so valuable. Shared by The Associated Press
and television network affiliates, the news spread
rapidly, the timing of high interest to parents.
As stock market rollercoaster rides and bank and
automaker bailouts erode families’ savings and jobs,
other colleges and universities are following Manchester’s lead in offering three-year degrees as
ways to save a year of tuition and get a jump on
Manchester continues to seek other initiatives to help
students afford higher education. Last fall, the College
rolled out a Triple Guarantee of affordability,
graduation and results for all full-time students:
- Financial aid for all students.
- Graduation within four years.
- A job or graduate school within six
months of graduation.
The guarantees are no stretch for Manchester, where
96 percent of graduates are in jobs or grad school
within six months, graduates typically finish in four
years, and all receive financial aid.
But the packaging of the Triple Guarantee – amid this
shuddering economy – resonates through media reports,
blogs and websites for college-bound families across the
country. Congressman Mark Souder made his first-ever
visit to campus to join the news conference with his
endorsement, giving the College a new friend in
Executive Vice President Dave McFadden ’82 has
become a widely quoted spokesman on making higher
education accessible and affordable at Manchester.
The news continues to spread of one small college in
northern Indiana that is so proactive, so accessible, so
affordable, that it surely must be an expert on the
subject and have a story to tell. Indeed.
BY JERI KORNEGAY