The University of Illinois Springfield has been awarded a five-year $2.25 million Strengthening Institutions Program Grant from the U.S. Department of Education with the support of U.S. Representative Nikki Budzinski. The grant will allow UIS to implement more high-impact practices (HIPs) to attract and retain students.
HIPs are teaching and learning practices that have been proven to enhance college retention, graduation rates and career prospects for students, with a particular focus on those who have historically been underserved by higher education.
“As we work toward the shared goal of helping more first-generation, low-income and historically marginalized students achieve their college degrees, this grant will be instrumental in providing additional resources to ensure their success,” said UIS Chancellor Janet L. Gooch.
UIS currently offers many HIPs in the form of undergraduate research opportunities, internships, capstone courses and projects, collaborative assignments, writing-intensive courses and global-, service- and community-based learning. Grant funding will be used to improve, expand, track and better understand the outcomes of HIPs.
The grant will help create new HIPs, including learning communities for online students and on-campus juniors and seniors. First-year seminars will also be improved with new shared learning experiences and financial literacy education. Additional collaborative internship opportunities will be offered through internal and external partners, strengthening ties with the regional workforce while supporting student experiential learning.
“We are committed to enhancing the educational experience for all our students, and this grant will empower UIS to offer an even greater array of resources to support their success,” said Jamarco Clark, UIS vice chancellor for student affairs. “Our vision for the future is one where every student, regardless of their background, finds a welcoming home at UIS, and this grant will help us achieve that goal.”
Additionally, the grant will strengthen UIS’ advising programs, enhance the Summer Scholars experience for newly enrolled students who need additional academic support before starting college and support implementation of a co-requisite writing model for students needing extra writing support. Faculty will also have the opportunity to earn a Certification for Effective College Instruction and take advantage of instructional redesign assistance and assessment support.
The grant also includes a professional development component for faculty and staff, focused on emerging concerns for serving a variety of student needs. UIS will integrate a campus-wide plan for professional development addressing student behavioral health and mental health, equity gaps in the classroom and positive student intervention strategies.
In August, UIS announced an 11% increase in enrollment for Fall Semester 2023, with more first-year, online and graduate students enrolling in classes.
“This grant will help UIS continue to build on the enrollment success we experienced this fall,” Gooch said. “I would like to thank our federal partners and all of the members of the UIS community who made it possible.”
The proposal was initiated, led and co-authored by UIS Assistant Vice Chancellor for Student Engagement Mark Dochterman and UIS School of Communication and Media Professor Kathy Petitte Novak.
Required Federal Funding Statement: This project will be financed 100% by the federal $2.25 million Strengthening Institutions Program Grant, with no funding from non-governmental sources.