Posted: January 23, 2009

Contact: Doug Anderson,, 651-201-1426

Thirteen high-ranking officials of the Minnesota State Colleges and Universities system will speak at places of worship this weekend to encourage more students of color and other underrepresented groups to prepare for college.

Their goal is to provide information and support for parents as they help their children prepare for college. The event, Minnesota State Colleges and Universities Super Weekend, is part of a system initiative to broaden access to higher education for groups that often have encountered societal and cultural barriers to post-secondary education. This is the third year that the event has been held.

“Completing high school and going to college are the most important steps that young people can take to prepare for a sound future and a good life,” said Chancellor James H. McCormick. “With Minnesota’s rapidly diversifying population, we must ensure that these groups, which have been historically underrepresented in higher education, have the opportunity that a college education provides. It is also essential for Minnesota’s employers to have an adequate and skilled workforce to remain globally competitive.”

According to the Minnesota Department of Education, 80 percent of white students in the state graduate from high school in four years, compared with 40 percent of American Indian students, 68 percent of Asian students, 38 percent of African American students and 39 percent of Hispanic students.

McCormick will speak during the 10:30 a.m. Sunday service at Redeemer Lutheran Church in Minneapolis. Other participating churches include House of God, Dayton Avenue Presbyterian Church, Progressive Baptist Church and Our Lady of Guadalupe Catholic Church, all in St. Paul; Fellowship Missionary Baptist Church and Holy Rosary Catholic Church, both in Minneapolis; Nu Way Missionary Baptist Church in St. Cloud and Betel Spanish Church in West St. Paul. Congregations from four churches in Willmar – St. Mary’s Catholic Church, Paz Y Esperanza Church, Iglesia Manahaim Church and First Baptist Church – will meet in a joint session at 1 p.m. today. System officials also will speak at the Somali Education Center on Friday and the Somalia Success School on Tuesday. Both schools are in Minneapolis.

“Guiding children through the college preparation and selection process is challenging for many parents,” said Whitney Harris, executive director of diversity and multiculturalism for the Minnesota State Colleges and Universities. “We can provide specific assistance to help parents make sure their children succeed in college.”

After the services, representatives from Minnesota State Colleges and Universities will be on hand to provide information on the admission process and to answer questions.

With nearly 33,000 students of color or more than 14 percent of the system’s enrollment, the Minnesota State Colleges and Universities system is the largest provider of higher education in the state for students of color.

Click here to see the complete list of speakers