Published Tuesday, September 28th, 2021
The grant will aid in reducing student performance gaps, increasing the percentage of students who return to WSC to continue their education in the following year, and increasing graduation rates.
Wayne State College has received a $2.125 million grant from the U.S. Department of Education through the Title III Strengthening Institutions program. The annual awards of $375,000 to $450,000 per year for five years will provide the College with the resources to substantially reduce student performance gaps, increase the percentage of students who return to Wayne State to continue their education in the following year, and increase graduation rates. This is the first time that WSC has received Title III funds.
“This grant provides the college with great resources for our students,” said Dr. Anne McCarthy, Associate Vice President for Academic Affairs. “We want to make life at WSC easier for you. Whether it’s getting help from a peer before that hard exam, knowing where to go for help and advice, or having faculty who know what you really need from a class, we have your back. This project allows us to take our support network to the next level and creates jobs for students who want to support their peers.”
Wayne State applied for the funds in order to supplement the resources the College uses on a daily basis to serve underrepresented student populations and provide the educational opportunities required for continued economic and workforce development. The Wayne State Interventions program, termed WayS In, signals a tight integration of a variety of retention and success initiatives into a single enterprise that encompasses academic support, faculty innovations, and student peer mentoring.
“The development of this grant project and the upcoming implementation plan are hugely collaborative endeavors,” McCarthy said. “We have a great team here at WSC, and it is through our combined talents and efforts that we get to do this good work for our students and for our institution.”
The College’s focus on student success, affordability, and maintaining a close-knit, diverse community has made Wayne State the institution of choice for many of Nebraska’s first-generation, low-income, and rural college students. Changing demographics projected for the state of Nebraska point to the need to prepare for changes in Wayne State’s student body.
“As our student population evolves, so do their needs in and out of the classroom,” said John Vinchattle, Assistant to the Vice President for Academic Affairs. “The WayS In program will help Wayne State College develop our student services and faculty supports to accommodate a new generation of learners.”
Wayne State will use the funds to support comprehensive academic success plans inside and outside the classroom. The U.S. Department of Education grant will fully fund new initiatives for the five-year period of the grant. These plans, which are made up of a suite of best-practice initiatives shown by research to positively impact underrepresented student populations, include:
- Funding for peer educator and peer mentor programs that provide supportive role models and guides with similar interests and backgrounds, peer-led instruction, and more on-campus jobs.
- First Year Experience courses that develop a sense of community and provide new students with training on the habits, resources, and tools they need to succeed in college.
- A student performance and record-sharing platform that allows for coordinated care of at-risk students.
- Professional development opportunities for faculty and staff to stay up-to-date with pedagogical shifts related to hands-on learning, changing student demographics, and use of technology through the creation of the Center for Faculty Development and Innovation.
“Wayne State College faculty strive to continuously develop classroom strategies that will improve student success and campus climate,” Vinchattle said. “The WayS In grant funds will allow faculty to further explore innovative solutions being used across the country and share these techniques with their colleagues.”