WSC receives grant from U.S. Department of Education

Erin Schwager, News Writer

Wayne State College received a $2.125 million grant through the U.S. Department of Education from Title III Strengthening Institutions program.

The grant is a total of five years, and it has annual awards starting from $375,000 to $450,000 per year.

“This grant allows us to do some of the things that we put in the grant proposal to affect student performance, retention and graduation rates,” Jay Collier, director of college relations, said.

Collier said that the ways they decided would be best to use the money would be to build on success with a first-year experience class, create a center for faculty development, provide additional funding for peer tutoring, and help fund the student performance platform Wildcats 360, which helps track student attendance, grades, and any sort of concern for students.

The college received the news Monday, Sept. 27 that they were the recipients of the grant. Funds should start being received at any time. The grant is now titled Ways IN, which stands for, “Wayne State Interventions of How to Sustain Enrollment Retention and Graduation Rates.” There are five initiatives that are focused on within the grant money. The initiatives include supplemental instruction, the Brandenburg renovation, Wildcats 360, first-year experience courses for incoming freshmen, and a center for faculty development and innovation. This hopefully will give professors a small incentive to apply new strategies and technology in the classrooms.

“The Department of Education has a big pot of money put aside to help institutions that are really serving students who need the help most,” Dr. Anne McCarthy, associate Vice President for Academic Affairs, said. “Wayne State College had to qualify to be eligible for the program and did that because we serve a lot of first-generation students and students who are coming from low-income backgrounds. They have this pot of money and welcome schools to apply.”

Both a budget and a five-year time frame were made in order to keep the money within the grant proposal.

“We had to qualify for the program then we worked with a consulting agency just to make sure that we were going through the proper steps,” John Vinchattle, assistant to the Vice President for Academic Affairs. “We completed a big survey to see what our needs were and what we would put the money toward in order to strengthen our institution for student needs.”

McCarthy and Vinchattle said there were a lot of support from colleagues, faculty, staff, and campus leadership to do some of the things that haven’t been brought together yet. McCarthy said the first place the money will probably be drawn from will be to pay for supplemental instruction student leaders. There are also three full-time positions written in for the college.

“This is actually part of a larger initiative, and this is one piece of a bigger puzzle that is really a lot of the same work of trying to bring our institution up to the next level to allow our college to do well,” McCarthy said.

WSC has submitted five major federal grant applications. Three have already been funded, a fourth one has started to ask more questions from the college making it look hopeful, and the fifth application has been submitted with no word back yet. McCarthy and Vinchattle are hopeful for the future of strengthening WSC.

“The grant is here as a resource, and we worked to secure this funding to compliment the great work that staff already does educating, retaining, and graduating our students,” Collier said.