08/18/2020 McMurry News

(Abilene, TX – August 18, 2020) McMurry University received notification from the Department of Education that the University has been awarded a Student Support Services (SSS) Grant. The SSS program is one of eight Federal TRIO Programs (TRIO) designed to identify and provide services for individuals from disadvantaged backgrounds. McMurry anticipates receiving approximately $261,888 per year for five years to support the needs of low income and first-generation college students and those with disabilities.

“The SSS grant is another significant achievement for McMurry as was the Title V grant received in 2018 to support STEM degree expansion and advancement for the University,” says President Sandra S. Harper. “The Title V Grant has helped to advance STEM programs for our students, and this SSS Grant will similarly aid students by helping them achieve their goal of graduation.”

The Department of Education notes that recipients of the grants are public and private higher education institutions with experience in serving disadvantaged youth and secondary schools. McMurry’s student profile aligns well with the grant target audience since McMurry serves a high percentage of first-generation students and is also classified as a Hispanic Serving Institution (HSI).

According to the American Educational Research Association (AERA), the differences in academic experiences and outcomes between American students from wealthy backgrounds and students from less economically advantaged backgrounds are remarkably significant and have been growing in recent decades. Additional AERA studies note that students whose parents have completed more years of education and have more significant financial resources are increasingly likely to perform better in school. These students also enjoy greater lifetime benefits of educational success than students whose parents have less education and fewer financial resources.

Dr. Matthew Draud, Vice President of Academic Affairs, notes that universities often talk about transformational achievements with the addition of new academic programs and facilities. “At McMurry, we are focused on transforming student lives through supporting their achievement of academic success. The SSS Grant will help us advance programs and services to support student success and help them graduate and pursue jobs and pursue  graduate and professional education.”

McMurry student body is nearly 50% of minority students, and 66% of minority students are eligible for SSS support. McMurry’s goal is to increase students’ success and retention through receiving SSS services such as tutoring and academic coaching and advising. Participating students will gain an environment where they will consistently receive support and services that will increase the University’s Early Alert program’s effectiveness.

“McMurry established three ambitious objectives including to enhance academic standing; increase the college retention, and continue to improve graduation rates of its participants,” says Dr. Christina Wilson, Director of the Mindset for Success Office. “This significant five-year, federal grant that will support the University’s financial and academically fragile students transition from one year to the next, helping them achieve their graduation goal. The objectives align well with the University’s Quality Enhancement Plan (Mindset for Success) and the objectives of the Mindset for Success Office.”

“The SSS Grant is a game-changer for McMurry,” says Dr. Allen Withers, Dean of Students and Campus Life. “ We are pleased to have received the award. This grant will add financial resources to help McMurry develop new programs and resources to aid low-income students as they work to achieve academic success.”


Alaisha Montanez ’11