Newman University was recently awarded a nearly $2.2 million Title III grant from the U.S. Department of Education to implement the university’s student support and success program.
The Title III grant, which was many years in the making, will implement the project “Navigating the University Experience: Integrating Student and Faculty Support for Increased Retention, Graduation and Professional Achievement” over the course of five years.
Grant manager Victor Chavez said the efforts of bringing the Title III grant to fruition on the Newman campus started even before his time. When Newman University applied for the grant previously, the score was “one point off from perfect,” Chavez said.
“We had to wait another year in the initial competition, but thankfully with the help of McAllister & Quinn (a federalgrant consulting firm), we were able to improve it even more and get the funding we needed,” he said. “Lori Steiner and Audrey Hane (dean for arts and sciences and director of Navigator, respectively) were both instrumental in making this happen.”
Implementing a support system from start to finish
The Newman Navigator program was created to provide students with a structured and supportive framework to help develop leadership skills through hands-on learning, research, scholarship and service opportunities. By the time students graduate, they will have completed internships, shadowing, advising and the creation of a personal mission statement.
“We always talk about Newman as the ‘degree of difference,’ and this helps us identify how we can take that a step further for our students,” said Lori Steiner, Ph.D., dean of the School of Arts and Sciences and associate professor of mathematics.
Navigator was built on Newman’s strengths and takes a university-wide effort to fully support the students from the time they enroll to when they graduate.
“We want students to be actively engaged in their own academic journey and their customized education plan, but guided with support,” Steiner said. “To fully realize Navigator’s comprehensive student support program, it takes resources. Thankfully, the Title III grant will allow us to fully implement Navigator in the way that we had hoped and dreamed it would be.”
An opportunity for Newman alumni
Not only do students develop as leaders with the help of their academic advisers, but also with the support of an alum or industry mentor.
“For our alumni, we want to reach out to them to be those career mentors,” Steiner said. “And if they want to give back to the university but maybe not necessarily financially, there are other ways to do that. We could use their help because we want every undergraduate student to have a career mentor that will help guide them through their academic journey.”
Alumni mentorship opportunities are not time-intensive, but they could benefit Newman students tremendously.
“We’re hoping that Navigator can help students tell their own story, and really reflect on how their academic journey at Newman is preparing them for the rapidly-changing world that they’re going to have to experience as working professionals,” Steiner added.
Chavez said that with the resources and growth of Navigator being fully implemented at Newman, “I believe retention numbers will be improved, graduation numbers should be improved … and for at-risk students, retention and graduation should all improve as well.”
Yearly objectives of “Navigating the University Experience”
In the first year of the grant, Newman will hire a full-time director of Navigator and renovate and equip the Student Success Center space in the Dugan Library — a $1.5 million project with $150,000 from the Title III grant. The university will identify faculty to participate in a Navigator faculty cohort and hire peer tutors. Additionally, Newman will implement processes and software to help identify students at risk of dropping out or failing classes, recruit Career Advisory Board participants and begin faculty development among other goals.
Year two will build on the previous year’s work and Newman will equip a Center for Teaching and Learning in Sacred Heart Hall, implement a Career Studio model, provide faculty development as well as pilot and assess Navigator courses.
Each year moving forward, embedded tutoring, faculty development and Navigator training will continue, new faculty members will participate in the Navigator faculty cohort and progress reports will be sent to the Department of Education. A Career Advisory Board will meet semiannually and strengthen Navigator’s “Flight Planning,” “Vector Check” and “Launch” phases.
“Navigating the University Experience” will provide students with a reliable support team of faculty, alumni and community leaders to develop the critical reasoning skills necessary to succeed in a rapidly changing work environment.
Vice President of Academic Affairs Alden Stout emphasized, “With better access to tutoring, career coaches and resources to implement Navigator university-wide, students will receive a significant increase in their pursuit of academic, personal and career goals at Newman University.”
To donate to the new Student Success Center, click on the button below and select “Student Success Center.”
Past successes and continued growth for Newman
In October, Newman University announced in conjunction with the Kansas Independent College Association that Newman has a $68 million economic impact on the state.
Newman also received a nearly $150,000 grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) for the project “Emphasis in Technology and Human Values,” which will develop connections between the humanities and professional disciplines.
The words of Cheryl Golden, professor of history & director of international studies, can be applied to the NEH grant, the university’s economic impact as a whole and the most recent Title III grant:
“It is confirmation that we are doing excellent work at Newman, that we are indeed developing programming that is mission-driven with a proven track record of preparing students to enter and transform our world.”
Navigator: Your Newman GPS
At Newman University, pursuing your degree isn’t a path you’ll ever walk alone. From the moment you step on campus, you will experience a supportive, teamwork, environment that will help you create and shape your own future blending your personal interests, faith, and passions with purposefulness and direction for your own life.