BARBOURVILLE -- Union College has been awarded a $2.2 million grant from the federal Department of Education that will allow them to enhance curriculum and transform the student experience.
The Title III grant will support the college's program, Union Distinction, which is designed to increase student success and retention by being directly involved to ensure students' leave on the path they desire.
Union already has a program in place that focuses on acclimating incoming freshman to college, however, money from this highly competitive grant will be used to take things a step further through a comprehensive framework made up of two key components: revision of high failure courses and increased capacity for engagement.
Through the first initiative, curricular revision will be driven by professional development. Faculty members will be traveling to learn high-impact instructional strategies and tools to promote engagement and success. The college will also use the grant money to update several classrooms into smart classrooms.
"We plan to help our faculty with the way they teach. Students learn and interact a lot differently than they did thirty or forty years ago, mainly because of technology, so we plan on using this money to update technology in a lot of our classrooms," said Tara Cooper, Vice President of Information & Learning Resources.
The second component will be made possible from the purchase of a new data system that will provide individual progress tracking, service referral and follow-up and predictive analytics. Advisors will use the data to anticipate and proactively respond to key factors that put students at risk for failure.
"We will be able to do a better job by looking at the data we have and using that to help students, not only as a whole, but as individuals. If a student goes into early alert, they are having a problem of some sort, we have more data on that student to help us meet their needs and help them be successful," Cooper added.
Additional positions at Union College will be created through the grant funding, those hired on will be key personnel directly involved with the program. The college aims to have those positions filled and the program in action by Jan. 2020.
"In addition to immediately implementing the exciting Union Distinction Program, we've set aside an endowed fund to perpetuate the Union Distinction for years to come," added Brian Strunk, Vice President for Advancement. "This endowed fund, matched with support from a visionary alumnus, will provide support to a transformational Union College into the future."
In all, 88% of the total cost of the program will be financed with federal money while 12% or $307,370 will be financed by non-governmental sources.