Grand Valley State University Signs Agreement with JCSU to Expand Graduate School Payments

CHARLOTTE, N.C. — Leaders at Grand Valley State University and Johnson C. Smith University signed an agreement April 12 that provides pathways for North Carolina students to earn master’s degrees at Grand Valley in engineering or athletic training.

JCSU is the fifth Historically Black College or University (HBCU) to join the HBCU/Hispanic Serving Institution Consortium. The consortium advances Grand Valley’s goals of increasing educational access and empowering learners. JCSU is a professional liberal arts college in Charlotte, North Carolina.

JCSU was suggested to GVSU by JCSU alumnus Lorenzo Bradshaw ’99, a local principal in the Grand Rapids, Mich., area who hoped to add his alma mater to the list of GVSU’s HBCU Consortium.

“I have been so honored to witness the partnership between JCSU and Grand Valley,” he said.

GVSU President Philomena V. Mantella said students from JCSU will enrich Grand Valley’s campus and add strong and diverse talent to the West Michigan workforce.

“Partnerships like this are how higher education works best. We are collaborating, not competing, with one another and share a common goal: to help students succeed,” Mantella said. “I’m very grateful to the teams who worked on this agreement and am excited to partner with Johnson C. Smith University.”

JCSU offers bachelor’s degree programs in computer engineering, mathematics and public health, in addition to a minor in sports medicine. The agreement provides opportunities for qualified students to earn GVSU master’s degrees in engineering or athletic training, beginning in the fall 2023 semester.

JCSU students will receive in-state tuition rates, financial aid and many other GVSU resources to support their journey, including co-op and internship experiences at West Michigan employers. 

B. Donta Truss, GVSU vice president for Enrollment Development and Educational Outreach, said JCSU students will be set up for success because of the support systems built into the consortium pipeline program. Truss added that the program will hit a milestone in April when the first student from a HBCU will earn a GVSU master’s degree in cell and molecular biology.

“We know that JCSU has extremely talented students,” Truss said. “Through our combined efforts we want to connect these students to West Michigan business and industry leaders who are very much interested in diversifying their fields.” 

“For 156 years, Johnson C. Smith University has been a leader in providing education to underserved communities,” added JCSU President Clarence D. Armbrister. “We are grateful that we aren’t doing it alone. We want to make sure out students have a seamless pathway when they leave JCSU, and our announcement today will provide a guided pathway for JCSU and GVSU.”