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University to open two-year college

Higher ed program helps students with diverse and economically disadvantaged backgrounds
SERVING THE UNDERSERVED—Terrence Murphy Hall (back right) on the downtown Minneapolis campus of the University of St. Thomas will house the two-year Dougherty Family College beginning this fall.
SERVING THE UNDERSERVED—Terrence Murphy Hall (back right) on the downtown Minneapolis campus of the University of St. Thomas will house the two-year Dougherty Family College beginning this fall.

Dougherty Family College, a two-year school, will open on the Minneapolis campus of the University of St. Thomas this fall, thanks to $18 million in private donations. St. Thomas, a private school, designed the program to help students with diverse and economically disadvantaged backgrounds attain a degree.

St. Thomas plans to enroll 150 students for its first community college cohort. The university is awaiting approval from the Higher Learning Commission to offer the associate of arts degree and will begin accepting applications as soon as accreditation is established.

Students will receive intensive mentoring and have a first-year experience seminar focusing on study skills, time management, and financial and information literacy. They’ll also learn research skills and be connected with paid internships through collaboration with regional employers.

Faculty members will serve as formal mentors, spending 30 minutes every other week with each student.

Once a student earns less than a C grade on any assignment, there is immediate intervention via an action plan, says Buffy Smith, associate dean of Dougherty Family College and professor of sociology and criminal justice at St. Thomas.

While the annual tuition is $15,000, the final tuition costs for the most under-resourced students is anticipated to be just $1,000 a year, due to the help of scholarships and grants.

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