December 15, 2010 // Local

University of Saint Francis announces receipt of $1.5 million grant

FORT WAYNE — University of Saint Francis (USF) officials held a media conference on the campus Dec. 8 to announce USF’s receipt of $1.5 million in Title III funding.

USF is the only Indiana college or university to receive the five-year grant. The funds combine with the university’s $1.2 million TRiO grant received in August, for a total $2.7 million to target low-income and first-generation students and provide specialized resources leading to their graduation.

Federal Title III programs provide institutions of higher education funds to improve and expand their capacity to serve low-income students. “This grant will provide another avenue for the university to offer services to first generation and low-income students to help them achieve their goal of graduation,” said USF President M. Elise Kriss, a Sister of St. Francis of Perpetual Adoration.

USF Provost Dr. Rolf Daniel commented upon the receipt of the grant and the university’s plan for specialized student support services. “The university will use this grant to strengthen how students are advised when they choose courses and majors. USF always has served a significant number of first-generation and lower income students, most of them from the greater Fort Wayne area,” he said. “The addition of these specialized, grant-driven advising resources is expected to increase the academic success of these students and help more of them to graduate.”

Specifically, the funds will be used to hire three new full-time advisers; train faculty advisers to engage students on and off campus to increase their success; establish a new Advising Center;  provide education for advisers; and establish a recognition system for advising excellence. The funds will also provide resources to record and assess data related to the grant, which will inform with the aim of improving institutional decision-making.

“We expect these services to positively affect graduation rates for Title III grant students, because the data will track success and risk factors for them. The two additional personnel will be particularly important in the retrieval of data as we build an expanded data bank, where information needed across a number of departments can be retrieved easily,” Daniel said.

Sister Kriss introduced Tellis Young, who directs the university’s TRiO program, funded by the $1.2 million August grant. The federal TRiO Programs are outreach and student services programs designed to identify and provide services for individuals from disadvantaged backgrounds.

“We have begun the process of weaving the TRiO program into the fabric of our internal processes to put specialized academic advising, financial aid assistance and personal counseling services in place for our students,” Young said. “The program will touch every aspect of their college experience in some capacity.”

“With the Title III grant and the TRiO grant, the university has received $2.7 million for the support of low-income and first-generation college students,” President Sister Kriss said in closing. “The Fort Wayne area receives an additional benefit in the creation of a total of seven new jobs to implement these plans.”

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