Despite the non-renewal of funding for the Upward Bound program, the university plans to respect its contract to operate on campus until September 2012. After the program’s expiration, Upward Bound must find a location for their services elsewhere.
“[We are] not “discontinuing” [the program],” Walt Gmelch, dean of the School of Education said, “it is trying to help them find another location; it doesn’t have to be at USF.”
Gmelch said he was in conversation with Upward Bound to assist them in their transition, by having follow-up meetings, “talking with [Program Director Janice Dirden-Cook], consulting with her…, talking about where they are [and] what they need.”
Ultimately, the dean was counting on Upward Bound to use good faith when moving forward.
“They have to take some initiative, too, in making this transition,” he said.
Cook said, “What they are suggesting is that we find another host for the project, which is exposing the program to possible elimination.”
The renewal process to establish a new host institution begins this year. Whether the renewal will be on behalf of USF or another institution is unclear.
Cook informed Gmelch in a letter that, “Changing host institutions is a rare and complicated process, requiring federal pre-approval. It is definitely not guaranteed and places the [Upward Bound] projects in jeopardy of termination.”
A reaction opposing Upward Bound’s proposed removal has also originated from many others involved in the project.
Amy Lam, another alumnus of Upward Bound, said, “it is difficult when the highest grade either of your parents completed was high school, and this high school was in China.” Lam supports its continuation at USF.
“Just learning how to navigate a college application and searching for scholarships to apply for, were huge tasks in themselves. […] I cannot comprehend the loss that these already-disadvantaged students will suffer if Upward Bound is taken away,” she said.
Kate Wong, a USF alumnus who used volunteering at Upward Bound as a vehicle to reciprocate the opportunities USF provided her as a student, disagreed with the university’s proposal.
“It would be a mistake and a disappointment if USF chooses to terminate […] hosting Upward Bound, which USF has been hosting for almost half the century,” she said.
According to Rev. Stephen A. Privett, S.J., the decision was consistent with the school’s commitment to social justice. “USF students currently provide just under 400,000 hours of service to a vast number of community service providers; our alumni are engaged in outreach programs; our faculty are researching and writing on issues of vital importance to the community, in addition to offering service learning courses to students. USF’s commitment to social justice is indisputable as a university, not a social service agency.”
Cook, the program’s director, finds the decision unfortunate. Her concern lies in providing access to underprivileged youth in an especially trying economic environment.
“For USF to even consider actions that would severally jeopardize access to higher education,” Cook said, “I find very tragic.”
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