Texas State awarded $5.8 million grant to fund STEM student success

Posted by Jayme Blaschke
Office of Media Relations
October 31, 2016

A 5-year, $5.8 million grant from the U.S. Department of Education will enable Texas State University to develop and enhance support services and strategies enhancing student success in science, technology, engineering and mathematics fields.

The Hispanic-Serving Institutions – Science, Technology, Engineering or Mathematics and Articulation Program (HSI STEM), sponsored by the U.S. Department of Education, will provide approximately $1,138,000 annually for the duration of the grant. Texas State was among only 21 public universities to be awarded funding in this year’s competition.

The purpose of the HSI STEM program is to increase the number of Hispanic and other low-income students attaining degrees in the fields of science, technology, engineering or mathematics, and to develop model transfer and articulation agreements between two-year and four-year institutions in such fields. Initiatives addressed under this grant, titled IMPACTing STEM Success at Texas State (or IMPACT) will enhance and develop the STEM success pipeline through high-impact services that will strengthen STEM success through professional development and research.

“Notification of our receipt of this new award could not come at a better time,” said Dann Brown, dean of University College at Texas State and principal investigator on the grant. “As of this year, our College of Science and Engineering has achieved a record-setting enrollment of 6,253 students and is now the university’s largest college.”

Co-principal investigators on the IMPACT grant are Michael E. Nava, associate dean for student services, Kambra K. Bolch, associate dean for academic programs, and Laura J. Cortez, director of strategic initiatives. 

Brown said the initiative has been designed with the goal of streamlining the process of transferring from the community college to Texas State. Providing academic advising and oversight to the STEM transfer process are key elements of making each student’s transition to Texas State successful.

In addition, STEM students will be served by success coaches, peer-led team learning leaders and STEM mentors. Evidence demonstrates that peer- and near-peer mediated programs provide support and guidance improving the ability of students to overcome difficulties encountered in courses required by their major, especially during times of transition from high school or community college to the university environment.

The second initiative will develop and strengthen mentoring as a means to improve STEM student success. Funds will be available for mentor and STEM student professional development and a research immersion activity. Workshops developing cultural fluency will be offered with the goal of enhancing the increasingly more diverse STEM student experience. Finally, a community of scholars will be engaged with the goal of developing individual and collaborative research teams on Hispanic and low-income student success in STEM, specifically, and the overall success of Hispanic and low-income students, more generally.

Comprehensive goals of this project include improving STEM student academic achievement and progress toward degree completion, as well as increasing the number of community college students transferring to Texas State’s College of Science and Engineering. Professional development programs will be offered and a research-based agenda for measuring outcomes aligned with goals for STEM student success will be implemented.

“Documenting impacts of initiatives on the success of Hispanic and low-income STEM students will be key to data-informed decision making in University College,” Brown said. “This year’s HSI STEM grantees were challenged to develop proposals that could be evaluated from a researcher’s point of view. This level of analysis will bring us to a deeper understanding of what is working on the behalf of our students and their success.”

About Texas State University

Founded in 1899, Texas State University is among the largest universities in Texas with an enrollment of 38,849 students on campuses in San Marcos and Round Rock. Texas State’s 170,000-plus alumni are a powerful force in serving the economic workforce needs of Texas and throughout the world. Designated an Emerging Research University by the State of Texas, Texas State is classified under “Doctoral Universities:  Higher Research Activity,” the second-highest designation for research institutions under the Carnegie classification system.