- Davenport University, a private nonprofit institution based in Grand Rapids, Michigan, will open a new campus in Detroit in January with 21 courses serving about 2,000 students in majors such as business, healthcare, technology and urban education, according to the Detroit Free Press.
- The university has three other campuses and has grown to be the second largest private nonprofit university in the state, now offering bachelor's and master's degree programs as well as athletics programs, though it once was a commuter school with more than half of its students receiving two-year degrees. Now just 5% do.
- One key to Davenport's success has been its focus on workforce development. Its president, Richard Pappas, said the university has "two bosses" — its students and the companies that hire them.
That practicality is echoed in Davenport's mission statement and actions. Its credentials are primarily business, health and technology-related and include bachelor's and master's degrees as well as certificates. Davenport also offers employment guarantees for a handful of programs, an initiative that was highlighted in a 2016 Brookings Institute report on the emerging concept.
The growing discussion around increasing colleges' responsibility for their graduates finding employment has gained bipartisan support in Congress. A recent court order forcing the implementation of Obama-era revisions strengthening the borrower defense system, which aims to help students defrauded by colleges that gave misleading job placement information, highlights the urgency around the issue.
The Brookings report contends the rising cost of college has put it on par with other major lifetime purchases in terms of risk. That means buyers are within their rights to expect guarantees and other forms of consumer protection.
Cost, along with high student loan default rates and many students never finishing their degrees, has students and their families looking for a more tangible return on investment, the report notes. Brookings points to guarantee programs in place at other colleges, such as Adrian College's AdrianPlus program and the State University of New York at Buffalo "Finish in 4."
Just one-third of students responding to a 2017 Strada-Gallup survey said they "strongly agree" they will graduate with the knowledge and skills to be successful in the job market and workplace. Half said their major will help them land a good job.