The U.S. Department of Education has approved a $10 million Title III grant for West Virginia Wesleyan College under the department’s Strengthening Institutions Program (SIP). The program helps eligible institutions of higher education to become self-sufficient and expand their capacity to serve low-income students by providing funds to improve and strengthen the academic quality, institutional management, and fiscal stability.
The grant, which will be distributed over five years, is the largest grant of its type ever awarded to a college or university and the largest award Wesleyan has ever received in its 124-year history. It will be used to improve strategies for student engagement and success which includes enrollment, retention, persistence, and graduation rates for Wesleyan students.
Among the initiatives the grant will support are improving student services, academic instruction, enhancing faculty development, and classroom renovations. In addition, the grant will also help increase Wesleyan’s endowment.
“Receiving news of this type is the dream of every college president in the United States,” stated Dr. Pamela Balch, president of the College. “This is truly a transforming award for West Virginia Wesleyan College. Wesleyan, like other colleges across the nation, is seeing a growing percentage of students who need additional academic preparation to succeed. We have a large percentage of low-income and first-generation students, and we have found these cohorts to have significant at-risk factors. This award will allow us to add additional staff, bring all of our classrooms into the 21st century with state-of-the-art technology, and invest in faculty development all designed to improve student success.”
The U.S. Department of Education Title III program grants typically range from $1 to $2 million per award over a five-year period. However, this is the second year that colleges could request up to $10 million. Last year, only six five-year awards were made in this category ranging from $3-$8 million.
Over half of Wesleyan’s 1,520 students are from West Virginia. Wesleyan also has more West Virginia PROMISE Scholars than any private college in the state. The United Methodist-related school, located in Buckhannon, offers 47 undergraduate majors along with graduate programs in athletic training, business administration, education, English creative writing, and nursing. During the past eight years, thirteen Wesleyan students have been named Fulbright Scholars, while four others have won international scholarships through the U.S. Department of State.