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Michigan TRIO Professional Organization Celebrates 50 years

June 29, 2021

Finlandia University TRIO Pre-College and Student Support Services staff recently participated in the Michigan College Access Programs and Personnel Annual Professional Conference spanning two full days and delivered in a virtual format on May 17 and 18, 2021. The 50th anniversary of the state TRIO organization makes it one of the first state TRIO chapters in the country to charter a formal chapter. 

Ten professionals from Finlandia’s TRIO programs attended the MI-CAPP Annual Spring Conference and participated in the 50th Anniversary celebration. Kailee Laplander and Joe Slocum from TRIO Pre-college programs and Cindy Cowell and Nick Kwiek from TRIO Student Support Services were members of the conference planning committee. As part of recognizing 50 years and longevity of service to TRIO students, several Finlandia staffers were recognized during the conference. 

A Past Presidents’ Breakfast served as a cornerstone of the anniversary celebration . The keynote speaker at the 50th anniversary breakfast was Dr. Arnold Mitchem, often referred to as the “Godfather of TRIO Programs.” It was Dr. Mitchem’s wisdom in 1969 that organized TRIO professionals throughout the United States. Dr. Mitchem began his career on the history faculty at Marquette University, moving into the office of Educational Opportunity in 1969. Dr. Mitchem is a national figure in educational access for disadvantaged students and served as the first president of the Council for Opportunity in Education, operating out of Washington, DC. In 2013, Dr. Mitchem earned the title of President Emeritus.

During the Past President’s Breakfast, MI-CAPP past presidents dating back to 1974 were in attendance and recognized by Dr. Mitchem for their service. Two past presidents recognized serve as TRIO professionals at Finlandia: Cindy Cowell and Kailee Lapander. Cowell served as MI-CAPP president in 1996 and Laplander served in 2020. Other veteran Finlandia TRIO professionals with 20 years or more of service to TRIO students from Finlandia were recognized at the breakfast. These Finlandia professionals include Terri Olsen and David Kamrad. Olsen has 24 years of service to TRIO programs and Kamrad has served for 30 years. Finlandia University TRIO professionals have a long history of being active members of the state chapter dating back to the 1980’s. A conference attendee commented during a session, “How big is Finlandia University? You all sure have a strong turn-out at this conference!”

Senator Debbie Stabenow opened the conference on Tuesday morning by hosting a coffee chat with MI-CAPP conference attendees. Senator Stabenow presented MI-CAPP with an official proclamation recognizing the organization’s 50th Anniversary. The conference also received congratulatory messages from Senator Peters’ office, Representative Fred Upton and the president of Central Michigan University, Robert O. Davies. Congratulatory messages from university presidents whose institutions host TRIO programs continue to pour in, including a message of congratulations from our own university president, Phillip Johnson.

TRIO programs were created out of the Economic Opportunity Act of 1964 in response to the Johnson administrations’ War on Poverty with funding of Upward Bound.  The Higher Education Act of 1965 funded Talent Search, and in 1968 an amendment to the Higher Education Act created Student Support Services. Finlandia University is proud to serve as a host institution for all three of the original TRIO programs. The programs have been continually funded at the University for over 30 years, supporting low income, first generation and students with disabilities in earning college degrees. Since 1964, the funded TRIO programs have expanded to eight distinct programs.

Finlandia University TRIO projects, funded by the Federal Department of Education, serve 993 students annually. Students are both Finlandia University students and pre-college students from the Western Upper Peninsula. In Michigan there are a total of 77 TRIO projects that serve 17,744 students with a total funding level of $26,749,281. 

Article provided by TRIO Student Services at Finlandia University.


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MI-CAPP chapter website
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