Deborah Bial, Posse Foundation founder and president, to speak at Denison's 2010 Commencement
Date of Event: May 15, 2010
Posted: March 12, 2010
Education leader Deborah Bial, president and founder of The Posse Foundation, will deliver the commencement address at Denison University’s 169th commencement ceremony at 12:30 p.m. on Sunday, May 16, 2010. She also will be awarded an honorary doctorate from Denison. Commencement will be held on the Fine Arts Quadrangle on the college’s lower campus (the 200 block of West Broadway), weather permitting. In case of rain, the ceremonies will be moved to the Mitchell Recreation and Athletics Center (200 Livingston Drive).
Posse, a nonprofit foundation, has developed one of the most comprehensive and renowned college access and youth leadership development programs in the United States. Founded in 1989, Posse identifies inner-city high school students with extraordinary academic and leadership potential and provides the opportunity to pursue personal and academic excellence by placing them in supportive, multicultural 10-student teams, or posses, at some of America’s most selective colleges and universities. On March 11, President Barack Obama announced that The Posse Foundation is one of 10 nonprofit organizations that will receive a portion of the $1.4 million awarded with the Nobel Peace Prize.
Bial’s inspiration for forming Posse came when, as a former youth leadership program worker in New York City, she heard a young student say, “I never would have dropped out of college if I had my posse with me.”
Today, the program’s partner colleges award incoming Posse Scholars with four-year, full-tuition leadership scholarships. Denison’s partnership with Posse began in 2000, when the college was invited to be a charter affiliate of the foundation’s newly created Chicago office, along with Carleton College and DePauw University. In 2001 the first Chicago Posse came to Denison, and four years ago, the first Posse from Boston arrived on campus. The May 2009 commencement ceremony marked the first time two groups of Posse Scholars graduated from Denison in the same year.
Denison is one of only 37 undergraduate colleges and universities to participate in this prestigious program, and one of only nine in the nation to partner with more than one Posse recruitment city. Today, other leading colleges participating as Posse partners include Colby, Grinnell, Hamilton, Middlebury and Oberlin.
Posse supports programs in Atlanta, Boston, Chicago, Los Angeles, Miami, New York City and Washington, D.C., and under Bial’s leadership, the foundation will expand into several additional cities. To date, more than 3,100 Posse Scholars have been awarded $330 million in scholarships from its partner institutions.
Bial completed her undergraduate degree in English literature at Brandeis University. She earned master’s and doctoral degrees in education with a focus on higher education administration, planning and social policy from Harvard University. In 1999, she received a $1.9 million grant from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation for her design and assessment of a new college admissions tool that could be used in addition to traditional college admissions measures. The new tool, the Bial Dale College Adaptability Index, is used to assess non-cognitive traits that may predict persistence and identify leadership potential.
In 2007, Bial received a MacArthur Fellowship from the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation. The $500,000 “genius” grant is awarded to “individuals who have shown exceptional creativity in their work and the promise to do more.”
The video below features Bial discussing the mission and vision of the The Posse Foundation as she reflects on winning the MacArthur Fellowship.
Denison University, founded in 1831, is an independent, residential liberal arts institution located in Granville, Ohio. A highly selective college enrolling 2,100 full-time undergraduate students from all 50 states and dozens of foreign countries, Denison is a place where innovative faculty and motivated students collaborate in rigorous scholarship, civic engagement and the cultivation of independent thinking.
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