Eastern University Invited to White House

St. Davids, PA: Eastern University was honored to be one of 15 higher education institutions invited to the White House in Washington D.C. on Friday, June 10, as a founding partner in President Obama’s Fair Chance Higher Education Pledge. The pledge is a commitment to reduce barriers to higher education for individuals with criminal records, including formerly incarcerated individuals, so that this people group has a fair chance to obtain the knowledge and skills needed to contribute to our Nation’s economy.

President Robert G. Duffett and Executive Vice President Thomas Ridington represented Eastern and met with Domestic Policy Council Director Cecilia Muñoz and Education Secretary John King.  At present, there are 25 colleges and universities participating in the pledge. The other institutions include Ancilla College, Arizona State University, Auburn University, Boston University, City University of New York, College of Saint Benedict, Columbia University, Howard University, New York University, North Park University, Nyack College, Raritan Valley Community College, Rutgers University (Biomedical and Health Sciences, Camden, Newark and New Brunswick), Saint John’s University, San Francisco State University, State University of New York, Union Theological Seminary in the City of New York, University of California System, University of Pittsburgh at Bradford, University of Puget Sound and University of Washington. 

Thomas Ridington said after the White House visit, “I was stunned by the enormous number of US citizens who have been in the criminal justice system (70,000,000) and how little is available for the 600,000 plus annually who are released from prison.  As the federal government begins to remove barriers that frustrate that transition, we have the opportunity to imagine how our Christian mission positions us to equip our communities’ returning citizens for lives of thoughtful and productive service.”

Each participating institution can individualize their pledge, Eastern has made the following pledge: Eastern University supports the Fair Chance Higher Education Pledge and appreciates the White House’s efforts to ensure that our nation’s many returning citizens are greeted with opportunity as they return to their homes and communities. The Fair Chance Higher Education Pledge is consistent with Eastern University’s history and practice of seeking to remove barriers to educational attainment that many of our neighbors experience. Over the years, Eastern has embraced initiatives, built programs, and sought partnerships that have allowed it to better provide educational opportunities to populations side-lined by the dominant practices of higher education. This creative activity reflects our commitment to values reflected in our motto, “Faith, Reason, & Justice." In a manner congruent with those ends, we are dedicated to providing all individuals who seek an Eastern University education, including those who have been incarcerated, a fair chance at gaining the knowledge and credentials they need so that they may access the opportunities they seek. One expression of Eastern University’s commitment to returning citizens is a June 2016 Conference on Reentry sponsored by our Center for Urban Youth Development, a City Councilman, several area nonprofits, and a church in Philadelphia. At Eastern University, embracing the Fair Chance Higher Education Pledge is more than mere words. It is an expression of our history and core identity.

For a fact sheet on the White House Fair Chance Higher Education Pledge visit, https://www.whitehouse.gov/the-press-office/2016/06/10/fact-sheet-white-house-launches-fair-chance-higher-education-pledge.