Agreement between GVSU, Savannah State University provides pathways to master's degrees for SSU students

Leaders from Grand Valley and Savannah State University signed an agreement August 30 that provides SSU students with expedited pathways to master's degrees in, eventually, five areas.

This marks the fourth agreement Grand Valley has signed with a Historically Black College or University (HBCU), bolstering its HBCU/Hispanic Serving Institution Consortium and aligning with the university's strategic goals of empowering learners and increasing access. Savannah State University is the oldest public HBCU in Georgia. Other pipeline members are Fort Valley State, Alabama State and Saint Augustine's universities.

The agreement makes it possible for SSU students to earn master's degrees from Grand Valley in engineering, cybersecurity, criminal justice, communications, and biomedical sciences.

President Philomena V. Mantella said the agreement capitalizes on SSU's strong foundation in STEM and social science education.

six people at table, president Mantella on video screen
President Philomena V. Mantella joins the event virtually. GVSU and Savannah State University sign an agreement to provide pathways for SSU students to earn GVSU master's degrees.
Image Credit: courtesy of Sarah Peacock

"We are thrilled to partner with Savannah State University and grow this consortium," Mantella said. "Innovative partnerships that drive supported outcomes for all students is core to Grand Valley’s mission. Thank you to the leaders who made this possible. We are continuing to reach higher to empower all learners in their pursuits."

SSU President Kimberly Ballard-Washington said the institution is proud to partner with GVSU on "this exciting alliance to further student success." 

“We are continually seeking opportunities that remove barriers and position our students for seamless transition into graduate school and for career readiness," Ballard-Washington said.

SSU students will receive in-state tuition rates, financial aid and many other GVSU resources to support their journey, including co-op and internship experiences at West Michigan employers. 

Paul Plotkowski, dean of GVSU's Padnos College of Engineering and Computing, said Gordon Food Service is a new example of industry support among West Michigan employers who have a desire for more diverse talent in the pipeline. The food service distributor, based in Wyoming, Michigan, agreed to sponsor a student fellowship.

"Our industry partners like Gordon Food Service are an important part of the HBCU/HSI consortium and play a key role in setting up engineering and computing students for success from day one," Plotkowski said. 

woman standing giving remarks while others are seated at table
Sametria R. McFall, SSU interim provost and vice president for Academic Affairs, discusses the partnership between SSU and GVSU August 30 in Savannah, Georgia.
photo courtesy of Sarah Peacock
three people in group chatting while standing
Mohamad Mustafa, SSU dean of the College of Sciences and Technology, center, talks with (at left) B. Donta Truss and Paul Plotkowski.
photo courtesy of Sarah Peacock

B. Donta Truss, GVSU vice president for Enrollment Development and Educational Outreach, said collaborations like this are how higher education works best. 

"We are collaborating, not competing, with one another and share a common goal: to help students succeed," Truss said.

SSU Interim Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs Sametria R. McFall called it a win-win for both institutions. "The articulation agreement will allow SSU students access to a broader portfolio of degree opportunities that include graduating with their undergraduate (SSU) and graduate (GVSU) degrees simultaneously or beginning their graduate matriculation immediately after graduating from SSU," McFall said.