Friday, September 07, 2012

The U.S. Department of Education has awarded Fairmont State University a five-year Strengthening Institutions Program grant totaling nearly $2 million. The grant will provide enhanced learning opportunities to help students succeed.

“Fairmont State University is honored to have received one of only thirteen new Title III Strengthening Institutions grants awarded nationwide. This grant will allow the University to dedicate resources to the retention of Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) and School of Business students,” said Dr. Maria Rose, FSU President.

U.S. Rep. David B. McKinley announced the grant award earlier this week.

“College students face a weak economy and an uncertain future,” McKinley said. “Many carry a full load of classes while simultaneously holding down a part- or full-time job. This grant will help Fairmont State prepare these students and ensure they have the skills to be successful.”

The successful grant was authored by a team including representatives of FSU’s School of Business and College of Science and Technology and Office of Institutional Advancement.

In the first year of the grant, funding will enable technology enhancements including iPad carts, development of a Learn Lab in the School of Business, conversion of traditional classrooms into Smart (technology-rich) classrooms, planning the creation of a peer mentoring program and providing faculty development.

Within the five-year grant period, traditionally high-risk courses – those courses that have a high Drop Fail Withdraw (DFW) rate – in the College of Science and Technology and the School of Business will be redesigned to integrate experiential, collaborative and technology-rich learning.

“The nation is in need of many more graduates in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) to maintain our economies and to help solve the problems that we will face with resource depletion and environmental decline. STEM programs of study at post-secondary institutions are among the most challenging and often the most difficult for students to master. The focus of these efforts is to improve student academic success, retention and graduation rates. These efforts will have a lasting influence to the citizens of West Virginia as we increase the number of STEM graduates in the future,” said Dr. Anthony Gilberti, Dean of the College of Science and Technology.

"This grant will establish a new standard for experiential and collaborative learning, and technology-rich learning environments in the School of Business. The Learn Lab will improve classroom functionality for both faculty and students by supporting frequent student collaboration and communication, allowing easy transfer of information between individuals and groups, and supporting multiple teaching and learning styles. The Peer Mentoring program, which is a key project area for the grant, is the result of a suggestion from the School of Business Student Leadership Board. The student leaders recognized that peer mentors could be instrumental in helping struggling students master concepts and study habits that will contribute to academic success," said Dr. Richard Harvey, Dean of the School of Business.

“Over the course of five years, this grant funding will make a significant impact on teaching and learning at Fairmont State. Additionally, in the last two years of the grant, a total of $110,000 has been set aside to use as matching dollars to leverage private donations to establish permanent, endowed funds in support of the peer mentoring program and student scholarships,” said Amantha Cole, Executive Director of Corporate & Foundation Relations.