SVSU has received a $3 million five-year Title III grant from the U.S. Department of Education.
The grant was approved after the university was one of only seven to win a competition for the funding. The grant, which is focused on improving students’ success, will focus on funding five key areas to improve student achievement.
The first area is an update in courses and supplemental material such as tutoring to support students in understanding college level math. The second is a reduction in the cost of textbooks for general education courses. There will also be support for an instructional designer to help create an innovative curriculum for these courses.
The third area that will receive funding will be the hiring of a transition coordinator that will help acclimate incoming freshmen and host a four-day summer program to help with their transition to college. The fourth is the use of technology to create a new business framework based on analytics to improve the services provided for students and communication such as correctly targeted emails.
The fifth and final area to receive funding is scholarships. The grant will provide $600,000 that will be matched by private donations to create a $1.2 million endowment for scholarships.
Associate Provost David M. Callejo Pérez was the main author of the grant application. The university has found through studies of student success that the biggest need for help is in mathematics.
“It is really at the core of everything: how do you help student navigate mathematics?” Callejo Pérez said. “We look at it as the better everyone does, the better the institution does.”
Director of Media & Community Relations J.J. Boehm was involved in the grant application. He is proud of the fact that the university received a grant of this size, as it does not happen often.
“We don’t receive a lot of seven-figure grants, so this is a major accomplishment, especially considering only seven universities in the nation were selected,” Boehm said. “This is evidence that professors really do want to see their students learn and complete degrees. Their input is why SVSU’s application was so strong.”
Math professor Tony Crachiola is one of the professors who gave input on the grant application. His focus was on how to improve the math department in order to benefit students.
“There are many different parts of the university involved, including IT support, scholarships, the library, advising and more,” Crachiola said. “My involvement comes from the academic aspect which is focused on mathematics. I am overseeing efforts to develop new materials that will be freely accessible to SVSU students and faculty.”
Crachiola will be focusing on topics like beginning and intermediate algebra in order to help students struggling in those areas.
Boehm is hopeful that the grant will help students have an easier journey to success.
“The university benefits from this grant because our students benefit,” Boehm said. “Giving students the tools to pass their math classes more quickly and more frequently helps their confidence, but more importantly, it expedites their path to pass the courses they need for their major. That helps them graduate more quickly, and that means less debt.”