GV signs second partnership with HBCU


GVL / Lauren Seymour

Emma Armijo, Staff Writer

Grand Valley State University’s Dean of Padnos College of Engineering and Computing, Paul Plotkowski, and Vice President of Enrollment Development, B. Donta Truss,  met with Saint Augustine’s University (SAU), to sign an agreement offering an opportunity for advanced computing and engineering students from the school to come to GVSU and further their education.

Located in North Carolina, SAU is a Historically Black University, making this the second of GVSU’s partnerships with Historically Black College and Universities (HBCUs). Plotkowski said that through partnerships like this, GVSU can open up avenues for students that weren’t previously accessible and do the best possible for students at both universities.

“Particularly with smaller HBCUs, they have tremendous strength in supporting students to be successful, from very diverse and frequently lower economic situations,” Plotowski said. “They can’t offer every educational opportunity that they might like to their students. Programs, like engineering, can be very expensive to run.”

This new agreement allows SAU students to partner with GVSU to receive a master’s degree in advanced computing and engineering in under 5 years. This will allow students involved to build on the educational foundation they have received from SAU with the resources and training that GVSU provides to open doors to careers such as biomedical engineering and cybersecurity. 

The program operates similarly to GVSU’s own internal combined degree program. This allows students to work towards a bachelor’s degree and a master’s degree at the same time, completing both up to a year earlier than average. GVSU Dean Paul Plotkowski has co-led the group effort from an academic focus, comparing curriculum from both schools to coordinate the transition.

“The most common thing we’re expecting of students is that they will begin at St. Augustines’s to probably do three years there, and then come to Grand Valley for two years, they would transfer back some of the course from the fourth year to complete their degree, and get their bachelor’s degree from St. Augustine’s as well as the master’s from Grand Valley,” Plotkowski said.

GVSU is eager to extend its opportunities and resources to offer SAU’s students a seamless transition. The students receiving this opportunity should have full access to on-campus support, Michigan in-state tuition rates and the ability to visit GVSU before they decide to participate.

“It really allows us just to offer the wonderful things that Grand Valley does to a bigger and broader population,” Plotkowski says.

This new partnership is not only beneficial for SAU, but for the Laker community as well. Bridging the distance between the schools, GVSU will give SAU’s students a taste of Michigan. The mix of cultures will create a new dynamic on campus, and continue to expose both universities’ students to diversity in many forms. 

Another large factor in Plotkowski’s work with the program development has been introducing students to the West Michigan workforce. Working with local employers has played a big role not only in the support of the program but additionally in networking and providing experience to the students coming in. 

“My other major activity has been working towards connecting these students with our West Michigan employers,” Plotkowski says. “If we can get these more diverse populations into West Michigan to get their education and interact with our employers, they’re more likely to stay here when they graduate.” 

GVSU will welcome those interested from Saint Augustine’s University to campus in Fall 2022.