Accelerated degree program fits governor's initiative

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With Michigan’sgovernor on campus, President Philomena V. Mantella announced February 12 an accelerated program that will help adults complete their bachelor’s degrees and enhance the state’s productivity.

Mantella said the online degree program helps working adults break down the barriers to their career success, while providing them with a certificate in one of four high-demand specialties.

The program answers Gov. Gretchen Whitmer’s call for more Michigan residents to finish their degrees, Mantella said.

The governor talks at a podium with President Mantella and two prospective students looking on.
Gov. Gretchen Whitmer discusses the accelerated degree program at a news conference with, at left, President Philomena V. Mantella, and prospective students Dustin Stek and Alyx Dean. (Amanda Pitts)

“GVSU, born of a community’s understanding that a local university is a powerful economic engine, understands the need to embrace what is ‘next’ now,” Mantella said. “Now is the time to keep prosperity inclusive and our state competitive. We are proud to lead.”

Whitmer said the online accelerated degree program is a critical step that fits with the initiative she first announced during the 2019 State of the State address, in which 60 percent of Michigan adults will have attained a post-secondary credential by 2030. There are 2 million Michiganders who have some college credit but did not earn a bachelor’s degree.

“GVSU has taken into account the needs of adult learners; this program was built with students in mind,” Whitmer said.

Mantella said the 19-month program allows students to shape their degrees in integrative studies while, at the same time, earning a certificate in leadership, applied data analytics, project management or global communication. Grand Valley has invested in this program, Mantella added, by reimbursing students the cost of the first course so they can apply that to future courses.

Whitmer said Grand Valley’s program harnesses the assets of the university and helps lift the state’s profile nationally. Prior to announcing the 60-30 initiative, Michigan was one of nine states in the country that had not set a formal education goal, she said.

“There are 100,000 jobs unfilled. This will ensure opportunities so every person will have a path to prosperity,” she said.

Mantella said the accelerated program is only the beginning of a portfolio of GVSU degrees and certificates offered in high-demand areas like computer science, cybersecurity, health and education. 

“We will continue to expand our portfolio and locations to reach more Michigan citizens where they are,” she said. “The changing workplace demands creativity and a continuous investment in new paths to serve our people.” 

Two students who will enroll in the program were introduced at the news conference. Dustin Stek said he put school “on the back burner” after having a child at age 19 and working full time.

“Now, 12 years later, it’s time for me to finish my degree,” said Stek, who works in the insurance industry.