Program's founder to speak at event
MILWAUKEE – Marquette University is celebrating the 40th anniversary of its Educational Opportunity Program, now a federally funded TRIO program, which assists and enables low-income and first-generation students to enter and succeed in higher education.
Marquette’s first EOP class, recruited in 1969, was made up of 40 undergraduate students and funded with a modest grant of $40,000. Forty years later, the program serves more than 500 high school and college students annually through four TRIO programs. On Friday, Sept. 25, the program founder and current member of the Marquette Board of Trustees, Dr. Arnold L. Mitchem, and Marquette President Rev. Robert A. Wild, S.J., will speak at an open house celebrating the anniversary.
“Marquette is proud that, throughout the university’s history, access to higher education for the underserved has been an important part of our mission,” said Father Wild. “In its 40-year history, the EOP has helped pave a path of success for hundreds of first-generation students from low-income families.”
Some of those EOP alumni are household names in Milwaukee and known throughout the nation. They include Congresswoman Gwen Moore, State Representative Pedro Colón, Deputy Secretary of the Wisconsin Department of Transportation Ruben Anthony, Milwaukee City Common Council President Willie Hines, Milwaukee Alderman Ashanti Hamilton, and Milwaukee Journal Sentinel editorial writer and columnist James E. Causey.
Moore was a member of EOP’s inaugural class in 1969. “Without the support of these programs as a senior in high school, I would not have made it to college. And it was this program’s continued confidence and guidance while I was at Marquette that helped me earn my college degree. So many of our students from low-income and disadvantaged backgrounds have the ability and determination to succeed in college, but they do not know how to get that first foot in the door, and they need a little extra support while in the university setting to make it through and earn their degree.”
“Marquette’s EOP has been and continues to be a model of success for the TRIO programs, which now serve more than 1,200 college and universities,” said Mitchem. “The benefits of these programs are demonstrated by the success of the students who use them. I’m proud of the role I had at Marquette and the expansion of TRIO programs nationwide.”
Mitchem started his career at Marquette as a faculty member in the history department, before helping found and being named as the director of Marquette’s EOP in 1969. Since 1986, he has served as president of the Council for Opportunity in Education, a Washington D.C.-based nonprofit that works in conjunction with colleges, universities and agencies that host federally funded TRIO Programs.
Sande Robinson, current director of Marquette’s EOP, started with the program in 1974 as a financial aid counselor. “I’ve seen EOP grow and change in many ways. I’ve personally encountered almost every one of the 1,665 EOP graduates and hundreds of other EOP pre-college and McNair students. I’ve seen those eager, sometimes fearful students complete their degrees and launch successful careers of their own,” she said.
“I see TRIO, of which EOP is now a participant, as an integral part of closing the gap between the number of low-income students that earn college degrees and their middle-income counterparts, and I have continually advocated for these programs as a Member of Congress. We can give kids grants and financial aid, but if they do not have the right support system – like the one that exists in TRIO programs – they have a much smaller chance of success,” said Moore.
Marquette’s four EOP TRIO programs include:
Media interested in talking with Dr. Mitchem, EOP staff and students, or EOP alumni should contact Andy Brodzeller in the Office of Marketing and Communication at (414) 288-0286.
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