October 16, 2023
Mars Hill University has been awarded a grant of nearly $2 million as part of the Strengthening Institutions Program of the U.S. Department of Education. “This is a highly competitive program, and we are thrilled that our proposal has been selected for funding,” said Executive Vice President Tracy Parkinson, who will serve as administrative lead for the grant’s implementation.
The SIP program supports colleges and universities that are committed to serving a socio-economically diverse student body. To be implemented over five years, the MHU program is intended to further the university’s strategic commitment to equitable opportunities for student success and is titled Project RISE, Realizing Inclusion, Success, and Empowerment. It will include an academic success coaching initiative providing personalized coaching for students with high potential to benefit. Grant funding will allow the university to partner with InsideTrack, a higher education leader in student success initiatives, to launch its coaching program. By the end of the grant period, Mars Hill will have added a team of on-site academic success coaches to support its students.
The grant will also support MHU’s Center for Engaged Teaching and Learning in its initiatives to provide faculty development in success-oriented instructional design. “We want our teaching at MHU to position every student to be successful, and this grant will allow us to partner with national leaders in universal design to support our faculty,” said Chris Cain, director of the CETL and professor of education, who will take on the role of SIP director. He will be supported by a full-time coordinator funded by the grant.
Additional funding will support expansion of the Men of Distinction program, founded by Roderica Williams, associate vice president for student success, as well as faculty development and resources related to promising practices in academic advising.
Other members of the grant development team included Ryan Bell, director of advising and coordinator of First Year Seminars; Kris Pack, director of research and reporting; Dave Rozeboom, vice president for student life; Laura Steil, chair of the faculty and professor of mathematics, Lisa Wachtman, senior director of student success, and Stacey Sparks, grants coordinator. “I am tremendously grateful for this team and those who supported them. Proposals of this magnitude require a remarkable amount of work and dedication,” said MHU President Tony Floyd.