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South Texas College awarded $2.5 grant by the U.S. Department of Education

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South Texas College dedicated staff including Kristina Wilson, Academic Grants and Projects Officer (left) and Lee Hudson Grimes, Associate Dean of Professional and Organizational Development (right) worked together in order to apply for the $2.5 million HSI grant.
South Texas College dedicated staff including Kristina Wilson, Academic Grants and Projects Officer (left) and Lee Hudson Grimes, Associate Dean of Professional and Organizational Development (right) worked together in order to apply for the $2.5 million HSI grant.

Texas Border Business

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McAllen, TX (September 9, 2014) – South Texas College was recently awarded a $2.5 million grant by the U.S. Department of Education under the Developing Hispanic-Serving Institutions (DHSI) Program. During the five-year funding period, three projects designed to work cohesively to increase the higher education success of South Texas College students will be implemented.

South Texas College qualifies as a traditional HSI with a current student body that is 94% Hispanic. In addition, 70% of its students are the first in their family to attend college.

The first project supported by the grant is the implementation of the FOCUS Academy and Active Learning Classrooms (ALCS) in order to enhance student learning and increase student retention and course completion.  The FOCUS Academy will provide professional development for faculty to assist them in an ALCS environment.

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“Active Learning Classrooms appeal to multi-generational students and provide innovative teaching strategies that are designed for collaboration and real-world skills,” explained Lee Hudson Grimes, STC associate dean of professional and organizational development. “The emerging trends demand changes to traditional classroom environments. Studies have proved that students are more successful in ALCS.”

Research conducted by MIT proved active learning curriculum in redesigned spaces reduced failure rates and increased conceptual understanding as compared to traditional lecture in traditional spaces.

The second project is the Redesign and Expansion of the Faculty Advising program.  This will include instituting practices to regularly update Faculty Advisors on best practices and college programs, and to recruit and train new Faculty Advisors.  To assist with the growing student body, implementation of DegreeWorks and a custom-designed tool, the Graduation Progress Meter, will be used to support the student and their Advisor with real-time degree pathway status and progress to degree information.

The third project is the Enhancement of Information Technology Infrastructure to support the implementation of the ALCS.  To provide full functionality across South Texas College’s five physical campuses and virtual campus, the broadband service will be enhanced to support distance learners or students requiring remote access to use student support areas such as the Library or the Center for Learning Excellence.

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“Essentially, this grant is going to provide more access and make our students more successful,” said Grimes. “For example, we will have the capability to provide courses that are in demand, such as nursing, to students that previously had to commute from areas in Starr County.”

The purpose of the DHSI Program is to provide grants to assist Hispanic Serving Institutions (HSI) to expand educational opportunities for, and improve the attainment of, Hispanic students. These grants also enable HSIs to expand and enhance their academic offerings, program quality, and institutional stability. For more information on the DHSI Program, visit www.ed.gov.

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