This past September Wilson College was awarded a $2 mil. Title III federal grant by the U.S. Department of Education. It was approved by the USDE under the Strengthening Institutions program which aims to improve academic quality, institutional management, fiscal stability, and options for low-income students. The college will be able to use the grant to ensure that students get enough support from well-trained staff to gain an optimal education while at the same time ensuring that the college itself is functioning to the best of its ability.
“We have been fighting for this grant since 2011,” says Kathleen Murphy, the recently appointed Interim Dean of LITS (library, information, and technology services). She went on to explain that the grant is for $2 million dollars and will be in effect for 5 years. This adds up to about $400,000 a year to spend on things like hiring a chief of information officer, the upgrade of campus technology, librarian training, and the establishment of programs to help at-risk students. Some of the process has already begun. Murphy says that the Wilson librarians are already enrolled in courses to become certified in education technology. By giving the staff extra training, as well as hiring a chief information officer, they plan to bring the IT staff, the library staff, and the academic support staff closer together in supporting the campus and its students. She also says that through this first year they are planning to update the campus internet. This means updating the fiber network and moving the campus Wi-Fi from a non-managed network to a managed one. This will allow for a more accessible, maintainable, and better quality network.
Murphy continues to say that setting up programs and support systems for at-risk students was one of the reasons they applied for the grant. While first year undergraduate students have First Year Seminar, continuing education and transfer students are not required to take the course. In some cases, this leaves the transfering students underprepared for classes. This can lead students to continually receive poor grades or dropping classes. This is what the college aims to prevent by giving underprepared students enough support and guidance to help them succeed throughout their college career.
We can expect to see many improvements over the next 5 years that touch every part of campus and affect every student.