UHV receives $2.25 million federal grant for student support

A new $2.25 million grant from the U.S. Department of Education will help the University of Houston-Victoria launch new programs to help promote undergraduate student success.

Chance Glenn

“This grant is an exciting opportunity for UHV and its students,” said Chance Glenn, UHV provost and vice president for academic affairs. “UHV has an ongoing goal to increase retention and enable students to achieve success by earning their degrees. This will help us as we help our students work toward their goals.”

The UHV University College recently received a Title III grant that will provide $450,000 a year for five years to put a three-phase initiative in place, said Beverly Tomek, UHV associate provost and dean of University College. Through this grant, UHV will focus on reaching out to and helping underprepared freshmen. The federal funds will finance 80 percent of the programs, and UHV will be responsible for the remaining 20 percent, about $566,000. The programs funded by the grant will begin immediately.

“Part of the university’s goal focuses on continuous improvement,” Tomek said. “This grant will enable the university to provide resources to its students, and train faculty and staff to help students push past their personal and academic struggles and complete their degrees.”

Beverly Tomek

The first phase will focus on academic success. The university will offer summer bridge programs for incoming freshmen who are not considered “college ready” because they had difficulty with portions of the Texas Success Initiative Assessment. Students will take mathematics or English classes during the summer as well as have access to courses that will help them complete their basic math or English requirements during their freshman year.

The first phase also will offer financial literacy instruction to help students learn how to manage their money at college. The university will hire two additional student success coaches to help increase the amount of “intrusive advising” available for students. Intrusive advising means the advisors will monitor students’ classroom performance and attendance, and reach out to students who are struggling or missing classes rather than waiting for them to come to the office for help. The university also will focus on adding more supplemental instruction options, including tutoring provided by students who excelled in courses.

Phase 2 will focus on training and support for the programs. In particular, the university plans to offer faculty training in effective, high-impact teaching techniques.

“The university’s faculty are experts in their fields and respective subjects,” Tomek said. “This initiative will help them sharpen their teaching skills so they can bring that expertise to students’ levels while also helping them find ways to include important skills, such as financial literacy, in classroom exercises.”

The third phase will concentrate on community engagement and peer mentorship. Through this phase, the university will work with faculty to find opportunities for students to engage in real-world learning experiences, such as creating a new logo or social media strategy for a local business or creating historical research projects focused on area sites. The university also will be looking for internship opportunities that can benefit students.

UHV will measure the program’s success by tracking support given to at-risk students, Tomek said. The university’s goal is that 100 percent of students will have some form of contact with success coaches, and 90 percent of students who needed assistance with TSI standards will meet those standards by the end of the summer bridge program.

“We are so fortunate to have a team at UHV that supports pursuing grants focused on helping all of our students succeed,” Tomek said. “I’m looking forward to adding to our layers of support so students will have multiple options to help them reach success.”

The University of Houston-Victoria, located in the heart of the Coastal Bend region since 1973 in Victoria, Texas, offers courses leading to more than 80 academic programs in the schools of Arts & Sciences; Business Administration; and Education, Health Professions & Human Development. UHV provides face-to-face classes at its Victoria campus, as well as an instructional site in Katy, Texas, and online classes that students can take from anywhere. UHV supports the American Association of State Colleges and Universities Opportunities for All initiative to increase awareness about state colleges and universities and the important role they have in providing a high-quality and accessible education to an increasingly diverse student population, as well as contributing to regional and state economic development.