New agreement between GVSU, FVSU creates talent pipeline


Courtesy / GVNext

Kylie Elwell

On April 8, representatives from Grand Valley State University met with Fort Valley State University, a historically Black college/university (HBCU) based in Georgia, to sign a new agreement to help support students through a GVSU graduate program in Engineering or Computing, as well as helping diversify the talent for West Michigan employers. According to the University, this is the first of many collaborative agreements that GVSU will have with HBCUs in the future. 

FVSU offers many strong programs in the STEM fields of education, but they are not as broad as GVSUs.

The HBCU created a program called Cooperative Developmental Energy Program (CDEP), which identifies high-talent students as early as middle school and mentors them through middle and high school. Then, they complete an accelerated Bachelor’s Degree program in three years. This program is what brought them to the attention of the Padnos College of Engineering and Computing. 

Paul Plotkowski, dean of Padnos College of Engineering and Computing said, “Grand Valley and Padnos College, who were the first ones to offer this program a number of years ago, has offered combined degree programs where a student can do a bachelor’s and a master’s (degree) at the same time, in the Engineering and Computing disciplines. That has been very popular with our students and it made sense to extend that concept to partnering with schools like FVSU.”

Students who decide to enroll in this agreement will be able to complete a combined degree program, which allows them to finish a bachelor’s and master’s degree in Engineering or Computing in the timeframe of five to six years. The Padnos College of Engineering and Computing is the first program to offer these combined degree options to its students. The Padnos College will be extending its internal program to FVSU students in order to support them and provide them with career-building resources.

“I was a first-generation college student myself and I think if you ask your faculty, you’ll find out that a remarkably large number of them were first-generation to college,” Plotkowski said. “For me personally, making opportunities happen for first-generation students with diverse populations has always been an effort and a lifelong goal. I’m very proud of how much we have diversified in terms of ethnicity, but in our fields male and female as well. I’m proud to say that we have a lot more women faculty than most schools. For me, this is another major accomplishment in the road to providing these types of opportunities for populations that I care so much about.”

Beginning in the fall 2021 semester, students from FVSU will have the opportunity to earn a master’s degree from GVSU in the following fields: various engineering disciplines, computer science, cybersecurity, or data science and analytics. Financial aid and scholarships, student support retention, in-state Michigan tuition pricing, and an opportunity to visit GVSU’S campus before enrolling are all aspects associated with this program that is offered to FVSU students.