Penn State Intercom......January 30, 2003

Academic Advancement
Programs get $540,000 grant

The University's Academic Advancement Programs have won a federal grant of $540,000 to train professionals to better administer TRIO programs over the next two years.

The TRIO Training Institute will specifically address the needs of personnel in Student Support Services and Ronald E. McNair Programs, two of the federal TRIO programs designed to help low-income, first-generation college students overcome social, educational and cultural barriers to success in higher education.

While Student Support Services programs traditionally have limited their focus to helping students graduate from college, the University's training prepares these programs to guide students toward graduate school as well. Retention in college can be enhanced by alerting students to the rewards of graduate school, linking them to research and teaching experiences, and building students' confidence in their ability to make intellectual contributions.

Training sessions are offered four or five times a year at locations across the country for Student Support Services and McNair directors and other personnel. The training focuses on increasing retention, preparing students to enroll and succeed in graduate school, and improving program management practices.

The University's training program is unique in engaging Student Support Services staff in extended dialogue with staff from Ronald E. McNair Scholars Programs, whose purpose is to prepare college students from underrepresented groups to enroll in doctoral degree programs, with the ultimate goal of diversifying university faculties.

The training program, directed by Geri Weilacher, has recruited a training faculty from among nationally known education leaders who also direct Student Support Services or McNair programs. The faculty includes Orlando Taylor, dean of the Graduate School at Howard University; Thomas Rochon, chief executive officer of the Graduate Record Exam; Cathi Eagan, assistant dean of the Graduate School at Indiana University, Bloomington; Mary Gonzalez, assistant vice president of student affairs at Texas A&M, Kingsville; and Michael Jeffries, associate dean of the University of Illinois, Champaign-Urbana.