DES MOINES, Iowa --A partnership that is shaking up education in the state of Iowa. "It`s truly a winning combination for Iowans," said Governor Kim Reynolds. DMACC President Rob Denson, UNI President Mark Nook and Governor Reynolds unveiled a liberal arts program where students complete their first two years at DMACC and then become UNI students in Des Moines for the final two years. Denson said, "It is called UNI at DMAC. This program will offer new affordable options for our students to earn a bachelor's degree close to their family, close to their jobs and close to home." President Nook says it`s one less barrier to achieving a higher education. "There`s a group of students here that are place bound that have no way to get to UNI to get a degree or get to Iowa State if we don`t do this. There really isn`t a great option for them," said Nook.
Before the announcement, Sal Lee was one of those place bound liberal arts students worrying about having to leave Des Moines. "I was going to have to transfer to Ames to get my bachelors but now with UNI doing this, it`s great because now I can stay here in town which I want to because of my grandkids," said Lee.
It is a unique program for perhaps the most unique student population in all of Iowa. Associate Provost of Student Services Brad Spielman said "A quarter of our student population identifies as single parent, three-fourths of students face significant financial barriers to being successful and 80% of our students are first generation."
Line Ponsonnet came to america to live with her aunt. She said, "Basically, I came here to learn english because I come from France." Des Moines is the only American home she`s known and she`s thankful it may stay that way. "I`m happy because I already left my family once. I want to stay here," said Ponsonnet.
The threat of student debt may be contributing to decreased enrollment at 4 year universities like UNI but educators at both institutions say this is not a hand out, it`s a hand up. "This wasn`t about driving enrollment for either institution. This is truly about breaking down barriers and making it a little bit easier for students in this area," Spielman said.
The program is expected to begin in the fall of 2020 pending an approval vote from DMACC and the State Board of Regents next week.