A Hull of a Program to Get Kids to College

The Daily Gazette, October 1, 2006

The Capital Region should be grateful that Roger Hull didn’t do what most retirees do when he left Union College last year. Instead of hitting the links or moving south, he’s launched a new career aimed at getting poor and minority kids to do what they rarely do: go to college.

Expanding upon an idea he developed at Wisconsin’s Beloit College in the late 1980s, Hull has created a program that will take 48 third-graders from “at-risk” homes in Albany and enroll them in special after-school classes two afternoons per week — 24 at the College of Saint Rose and 24 at Albany College of Pharmacy. (A third college, North Central in Illinois, has also signed on for 24 more.)

The curriculum will be grade-appropriate, and taught by the best elementary teachers available. College students will assist as mentors, and parents will be required to attend one weekend session per month to monitor their children’s progress. Each year, a new group of 24 third-graders will enter the program at each college, while those from the previous year move up a grade, and so forth until they enter college.
At least that’s the goal, and at Beloit — which didn’t use mentors or require parental participation — the record was exemplary: 41 percent of first-year participants stayed with the program through 12th grade (among the dropouts were kids who moved away); and 95 percent of those went to college. That compares quite favorably with the 36 percent of area students who didn’t participate in the program.

The implications for the lucky students chosen to participate in a program like this are obvious. But it also offers host colleges an opportunity to diversify their student body (assuming some of the participants eventually enroll in them). It has the potential to inspire other inner-city schoolkids: the classmates of participants, who’ll be setting an example for them during the course of the regular schoolday. And it can’t help but benefit the communities in which these kids live.

So hats off to Hull for following through on his commitment to get this program off the ground. And here’s hoping he succeeds in getting more colleges to participate. We can’t think of a couple more appropriate choices than Union, Hull’s old institution, and Schenectady County Community College, both of which he says he’s been talking to.

The Help Yourself Foundation, a 501(c)(3) public charity, was established in 2005 by Roger H. Hull. Dr. Hull earned his undergraduate degree from Dartmouth College, his law degree from Yale Law School, and his master’s and doctorate degrees from the University of Virginia. After practicing law for three years in New York City, he served as Special Counsel to Governor Linwood Holton of Virginia, Deputy Staff Director and Special Assistant to the Chairman of the National Security Council’s Interagency Task Force on Law of the Sea, and Vice President for Development and Planning and Adjunct Professor of Law at Syracuse University. He was President of Beloit College (1981- 1990) – where the after-school academy was created at his urging – and President of Union College and Chancellor of Union University (1990-2005).

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