Sauk to award honorary degree to community college advocate

February 11, 2019

DIXON – Sauk Valley Community College plans to honor a national higher education advocate who helped with the college’s ongoing efforts to develop the Sauk Promise Program.

The college will award its third honorary degree to Martha Kanter, executive director of the College Promise Campaign, which is a nationwide initiative that aims to build support and create college promise programs that pay for the first 2 years of students’ schooling.

For more than a year, Kanter provided Sauk with free services and advice on how to develop its own promise program, which is in early stages and could roll out as soon as 2022.

The program would allow qualifying students in Carroll, Whiteside, Ogle, Lee, Bureau and Henry counties to earn tuition and fees for up to 3 years in a career or transfer program at Sauk if they follow certain requirements such as graduating on time or early, volunteering a total of 100 hours of community service before graduating from high school, applying for one other local/state/national scholarship, and filling out a FAFSA application.

Kanter has also connected other colleges starting to form promise programs with Sauk to serve as an additional resource, said Lori Cortez, Sauk’s dean of institutional advancement.

Kanter is a Senior Fellow at the Steinhardt Institute for High Education Policy at New York University, and she served as the U.S. Under Secretary of Education as part of former President Barack Obama’s administration.

The Sauk Board approved the honorary associate of arts degree last week for her “exceptional and lasting contributions as a notable life achievement in education generally and in community college education specifically.”

Kanter will be the commencement speaker for Sauk’s graduation ceremony in May, when she will receive the degree.

The college’s first two honorary degrees were awarded to the late Andrew Bollman, a Dixon attorney and former Sauk Board chairman, and longtime Sauk instructor Kit Lillyman, who taught English, Spanish and French from 1967 to 1997.

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