One of the aims of the Cultivating Success Initiative will be to create “guided pathways” to help students progress from high school to ENMU-R and on to four-year institutions. (Lisa Dunlap Photo)

Second Title V grant meant to improve student outcomes

A local college has received a $3 million grant that it thinks will help more students earn their associate’s degrees and continue on to four-year programs.

Eastern New Mexico University-Roswell has received its second Title V Developing Hispanic-Serving Institutions grant from the U.S. Department of Education.

Title V refers to the section of the Higher Education Act of 1965 that pertains to federal programs benefiting institutions with a significant percentage of Hispanic or minority students.

In fall 2018, 47% of enrolled student at ENMU-R were Hispanic, according to data from the Integrated Postsecondary Education Data (IPED) System of the National Center for Education Statistics. That was about 1,141 of the 2,427 enrolled at the time of the headcount, according to the IPED.

The percentage can be as high as 60%, said Shawn Powell, ENMU-R president.

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The Title V grant is allocated over five years, with ENMU-R to receive $600,000 a year.

By federal regulations, the money cannot be used for scholarships. The grants are intended to support programs that will benefit students and to improve skills among faculty and staff so that they can better educate and serve students.

“When we are awarded this grant, it gives us a wonderful opportunity to improve our skills and do better,” said Jacqueline Starr, director of the Title V program.

ENMU-R intends to use the funds to benefit all students, regardless of ethnicity or income levels.

“This is an Hispanic-serving institution grant, but it encompasses all students,” Starr said.

The school’s grant initiative has been given the title “Cultivating Success Initiative-Roswell Project” and it aims to move students along “guided pathways” from high school, to ENMU-R, and onto bachelor’s degree programs at universities and colleges. Students’ English and math skills are expected to be improved so that they can succeed in classes and graduate.

Starr said that the Department of Education requires that financial literacy be part of the math education component, and Powell said that the college will work with high schools in the area to prepare students for college work.

Powell explained that many students are the first in their families to attend college and have not received a lot of academic mentoring, so providing them preset choices, or “guided pathways,” will make it easier for them to complete degrees. It also tends to help students focus their studies and receive directed mentoring, so they can make a degree choice early and avoid switching programs several times.

The IPED report shows that about 32% of ENMU-R students who enrolled in 2014 graduated within the expected time, which is about two years for associate degrees. About 41% completed within about three years, but the rate dipped a bit for Hispanic students to 38%.

“Part of this guided pathway approach is to help students track a course where they can see something in high school, get some dual-credit classes, come to ENMU-Roswell, finish an associate degree here, and then move on to a transfer opportunity to, say, Portales or wherever else they might want to finish a bachelor’s degree,” Powell said.

The grant project aims to enhance dual-credit pathways with area high schools and with four-year institutions in the state. Dual-credit pathways allow high school students to enroll in courses, often taught by college faculty, that provide both high school and college credits. ENMU-R already has six dual-credit pathways in arts, technology and communications; human services; health sciences; transportation, distribution and logistics; law and public safety; and education and training.

The pathways with four-year institutions would ensure that credits taken at ENMU-R would transfer to four-year schools.

Complete College America, a national alliance of educators working to increase college completion rates as well as boost the number who finish on time, has used research to identify six ways that schools can help students finish degree programs. One of those is the guided pathway concept, what it calls “highly structured academic maps,” partnered with academic advising.

The group indicates that 5% of students nationwide complete associate’s degrees within two years and 20% of students earn a bachelor’s degree in four years. One result of longer completion times is larger student loan burdens.

When ENMU-R received its first Title V grant in 2016, the money was used to enhance science, technology, engineering and math education and to create the iCenter, or innovation center. The iCenter provides equipment and labs for people to design, manufacture and market products or components. Powell said a report will be issued soon about the grant outcomes.

Senior Writer Lisa Dunlap can be reached at 575-622-7710, ext. 351, or at reporter02@rdrnews.com.



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