Why We Joined the Yes We Must Coalition

I have belonged to a number of professional associations and organizations over the course of my career.  While I’ve found all of them to be worthwhile, I can think of no other membership that proved as valuable as my association with Yes We Must during my years of service as president of Calumet College of St. Joseph. 
Yes We Must is a coalition of smaller institutions of higher learning that focuses in a particular way on the needs of at-risk and underprepared students, most of whom come from disadvantaged backgrounds of one kind or another.  Engagement with Yes We Must colleagues is invariably student-focused, hands-on, and collaborative.  I found the relationships shared with other members to be highly satisfying and most productive.  Most importantly, Yes We Must members don’t just talk!  They collaborate to ensure their students’ success.  They walk the talk!
I could not recommend Yes We Must more highly to institutions that are dedicated first and foremost to providing a high quality and affordable education for those students who are so often left on the outside looking in.
Yes We Must!  It’s a great organization.  Consider making it your higher education affiliation of choice!

Daniel Lowery, Past President, Calumet College of St. Joseph

Heritage joined Yes We Must because this was the only organization (with success potential) focused specifically on institutions provably dedicated to the neediest ambitious students. Stayed in because progress was demonstrated and foundations and government were listening.

John Bassett, Past President, Heritage University

We joined because:

1. We strongly believe in the need for advocacy by private non-profit institutions serving large numbers of low-income students. I do not think we are well served by only being part of the network of private non-profit institutions.

2. Often, not always, our institutions have limited resources, and faculty become isolated as they do not participate in professional networks due to lack of funding. Even when they do participate, they meet colleagues from different types of institutions. I believe YWM has a great opportunity to be a place to provide faculty development and inter-change among our institutions.

Andrew Sund, President, Heritage University
Past President, St. Augustine College

Membership in YWM is a natural fit for Union College and a unique voice for institutions like ours that serve students from low socio-economic backgrounds. I have continually lamented legislators’ and reporters’ lack of focus on our missions, our support of students, our retention efforts, our low student debt rates, our success stories, our expertise in those areas in which they express such concern. Other organizations, for instance, NAICU and CIC, are strong voices for private higher education, but only YWM speaks to the specific needs of the Union College population. I am excited about the opportunity YWM offers to collaborate with other like institutions and to have a voice in collaborations that isn’t overshadowed by larger, more exclusive, less tuition-driven institutions. We, members of YWM, have the flexibility, the desire, and the motivation to provide to our particular student demographic a rigorous academic experience in the most effective, efficient manner possible.

Marcia Hawkins, President, Union College – Kentucky

I am not the president who was in place when YWM began. My assumption would be that we joined because no other group was focused on the needs of first-generation, low-income students. We stay because we have found tremendous value in working with other institutions to gain access to resources that we would not otherwise have access to. We find great work being done jointly between our institutions to advance the completion agenda and access to funds, particularly, that we would not have been able to secure alone. I am also very grateful for the work that YOU do regularly on our behalf.

Helen J. Streubert, President, College of Saint Elizabeth

The Wisconsin Association of Independent Colleges and Universities joined the Yes We Must coalition as an associate member because we are committed to the same great cause. Our mission is: Wisconsin’s private, nonprofit colleges and universities working together for educational opportunity. The coalition is also about working together for educational opportunity. Education is essential for healthy communities and a moral imperative.

Rolf Wegenke, President, Wisconsin Association of Independent Colleges and Universities

Why we joined and why we remain — the focus on first-generation and under-resourced students is at the core of RMU and of YWM. This is why we joined. We stay because the like-minded institutions and presidents have much in common. We speak the same language. One example is the YWM Online Consortium. Although we all have other options, none focuses on this student body like the group of YWM institutions does. I’m also very excited about the data we can collect and utilize as a group. The work you’ve done with grants is keeping us involved as well!

Mablene Krueger, President, Robert Morris University – Illinois

We joined because YWM offered an avenue to speak to the foundation community as part of a coalition with common interests, at a time when it had become evident that there would be little or no funding forthcoming for stand-alone small institutions, no matter how interesting their initiatives. It also offered the prospect of a community of discourse for staff and faculty outside our narrow institutional boundaries, again with institutions that share common challenges and commitments. We remain because we have seen tangible progress in meeting these goals and see prospects for continuing progress.

Vinton Thompson, President Emeritus, Metropolitan College of New York

Coker joined YWM because we saw a tangible way to affirm our institutional commitment to underrepresented students and to develop stronger networks with like-minded schools. We remain members for largely those same reasons: being part of YWM speaks directly to our institution’s strengths, identity, and aspirations.

  • Information from the data project has directly informed discussions about student success and retention on campus having allowed us a greater level of disaggregation of data. For example, we made substantial use of it in our work with the John Gardner Institute, focused on retention and student success.
  • Our work in a collaborative Teagle Foundation project has opened up new lines of communication among liberal arts and business faculty on our campus that I’ve not seen matched in my time at Coker.
  • Our opportunity to take part in the YWM-NSF collaboration on STEM student success, in addition to scholarships and experiential learning, has allowed us to be part of a a truly transformative project, all in collaboration with institutions and colleagues with which we otherwise would not have been in contact.

I have found the synergies with YWM and member schools so strong that these are just a sample of the projects with which we have been involved. I also found, for example, that the recent YWM Institute in Roanoke gave new perspectives to both our CFO and one of our leading faculty members.

Tracy Parkinson, Vice President for Strategic Partnerships
and Special Assistant to the President, Coker College

Andrew College supports the Coalition because we have many students who have obstacles and need academic support. We think the Coalition is an entity that considers these students and helps make a better future for them.

Karan B. Pittman, Academic Dean, Andrew College

I have recently arrived at Mercy College and am still trying to understand all of the relationships and their benefits. When I arrived, the partnership was already in place, so I could not tell you why the partnership was formed. However, from what I know, Mercy College is collaborating with YWMC on an NSF S-STEM grant and we certainly value the relationships and ideas that these types of partnerships bring to the College.

Jose Herrera, Provost and Vice President of Academic Affairs, Mercy College