Two West Virginia higher education institutions got some great news this month from the federal government.
Title III Strengthening Institutions grants help schools become more self-sufficient and expand their capacity to serve low-income students. The grants help them improve and strengthen their academic quality, institutional management, and fiscal stability. West Virginia Wesleyan College and the University of Charleston are the only two West Virginia institutions to receive one of these highly competitive grants during this year’s funding cycle.
UC will receive just under $2 million over five years. University spokeswoman Carrie Stollings says UC’s grant will focus on improving support for distance learning. She says UC plans to develop more on-line programs and programs that are “hybrid” – meaning that while much of the work is done on-line, students do meet face-to-face with faculty on a scheduled basis.
The Title III funding will allow UC to provide faculty, academic advisors and technology support staff to focus on the needs of those learners.
Wesleyan’s grant will provide $10 million over five years. Wesleyan President Pamela Balch says applying for the larger amount was a long shot and no other institution has ever received one this large.
“To get this amount of money, how much it will impact a school our size – is so phenomenal, that everybody is just absolutely thrilled!” - Pamela Balch
The grant will allow Wesleyan to focus on student retention, renovate its classrooms with state of the art technology, and put $400,000 a year into its endowment – if the school matches that amount through private fundraising.
President Balch sees these Title III grants as great investments of government money.
“We’re really making a difference,” says Balch. “Our whole philosophy is serving and so when our students come here and they get a great education, they’re also learning how to serve communities and go out into the world, and so, to me, that is the best use of taxpayer money you could ever, ever have.”
The grants run on the federal budget cycle, so they’ll go into effect beginning October 1.