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Columbia’s Double Discovery Center Names New Executive Director

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Double Discovery Center, Columbia University's program for low-income, college-bound students in New York, has named Muriel A. S. Grimmett as its new executive director. Over the last four decades, Double Discovery's academic enrichment programs have served more than 30,000 students in the city and it has served as a model for programs elsewhere.

A specialist in multicultural education and African-American studies, Dr. Grimmett has worked at the national, regional and state levels on issues related to enhancing access and outcomes for low-income, college-bound students. She has held administrative and teaching posts at the University of Nevada at Las Vegas, Rutgers University, Carleton College and Southern Illinois University.

"It is an honor to for me to take over as executive director of Columbia's oldest community outreach program," Dr. Grimmett said. "I am heartened by the large number of volunteers and friends who continue to pledge their services and resources toward the Double Discovery mission of providing academic assistance to students from underrepresented communities. I look forward to continuing the excellent work of those who came before me."

Columbia's Double Discovery Center works with teenagers who are at risk of not completing high school or entering college. It offers academic, career, college, financial aid and personal development services year-round with the goal of increasing the rate of high school graduation, college entrance and college completion. Participants have a 96 percent high school graduation rate and 66 percent go on to graduate from a four-year college - 20 percent higher than the national rate of college graduation.

Double Discovery was founded in 1965 by a group of Columbia undergraduates led by Roger Lehecka CC '67 and history professor James P. Shenton. Among the first programs of its kind in the nation, it served as a model for the federal Upward Bound college access program.

"In 1965, when we were writing the grant application for Project Double Discovery, we never thought that we were building a framework that would span four decades," Roger Lehecka said. "In the optimism of youth, I don't think any of us felt that there would still be a need for this program in the 21st century. However, since the need clearly still exists, I am thankful that we have the program and I am proud of my continuing association with it."

As part of Columbia's Double Discovery, Upward Bound currently serves more than 165 high school students with year-round academic, career, college and counseling services, as well as a six-week summer residential academic program on campus.

Another federal program, Talent Search, instituted in 1977, provides academic services to more than 1,000 middle school, high school and young adult students annually. Middle school students attend tutoring and workshops after school and educational trips on the weekends. In the summer, there is a full day program of classes, tutoring, special interest clubs and visits on campus. Throughout the year, high school students attend test preparation courses, as well as workshops and personal development forums and weekend academic classes.

Muriel A. S. Grimmett earned her bachelor's degree and master's degree from Southern Illinois University, and her PhD in higher education administration from St. Louis University. She has received the Award of Excellence from the Association for Excellence and Equality in Education, Inc., and has been recognized for her work with the National Ronald E. McNair Undergraduate Research Conference and Graduate School Fair held annually at Delavan, Wisconsin.

In 1998, she was one of 11 recipients of the inaugural TRIO Dissemination Partnership Program grants awarded by the U. S. Department of Education. She is a member of the board of the United Way of Central Jersey and a former member of the Council of Graduate School/Council for Opportunity in Education Joint Committee.

To learn more about Double Discovery, visit: www.columbia.edu/cu/college/ddc.

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