Department of Education Title III grant funding used to strengthen Mayville State

November 17, 2012

Mayville State University was the fortunate recipient of a $1.9 million U.S. Department of Education Title III grant, announced in the spring of 2007. Title III grants are significant change agents for institutions because they allow experiments and risks to be taken that are important to the institution's future. This grant funding, which ended this fall, has resulted in a number of positive accomplishments at Mayville State University.

Title III's Strengthening Institutions mission is to show significant growth in the areas of academic quality, institutional management, and fiscal stability, in order to increase self-sufficiency and strengthen the institution's capacity to make substantial contributions to higher education. Mayville State University's strategic planning goals and the key areas of activity for Title III were aligned to ensure that the institution remains focused on access to and development of academic programs, student retention and advising, and professional development.

In the area of access to degrees and programs, an online distance student orientation program was designed and is in use. A distance student handbook, along with newly developed advising materials, supplements the program. Distance headcount increased from 256 in the fall of 2007 to 384 in the fall of 2012. The number of distance degree seekers grew from 88 in the fall of 2007 to 177 in the fall of 2012. Mayville State has seen a significant increase in summer school offerings and enrollment, the highest in decades.

Mayville State now has nine distance/online degree programs. Distance/online course development began during 2007 and continues today. The Office of Instructional Technology provides and updates course development materials designed to assist curriculum developers and evaluate distance courses. A total of 165 unique distance and online courses have been offered, and four more courses are still in development. Mayville State currently offers 60 credits of online general education and institutional requirements in a regular rotation. These are courses that appeal to and are applicable to the average new student. Additionally, there are 28 online general education credits in mathematics and science that appeal to higher-level students.

In the area of retention and academic support services, the Seminar on Success has been developed. The course was offered as an option for freshmen in the fall of 2009, and became a required freshman course in the fall of 2010. The course is designed to help all students who are new to Mayville State University become integrated into the college environment.

A writing center was established in the fall of 2011. The goals of the center are to provide assistance to all levels of students from freshmen-level English composition courses to senior-level writing and composition assignments across disciplines. MSU has provided tutoring services for as many as 33 courses, and efforts to build offerings are ongoing.

A peer leadership program was established in the fall of 2010 to provide upper-class MSU students an opportunity to assist freshmen in their transition to college life. Peer leaders attend class with freshmen, participating and leading activities. They meet weekly with Student Services staff for planning and leadership training. Another aspect of their roles is to host events and activities that help freshmen meet other Mayville State students. Some of theirs have been the best-attended events on campus.

Mayville State's academic advising model was first redeveloped and implemented in the fall of 2009. The new intrusive academic advising model was developed to support the institution's new retention strategies. Within the new advising approach, a new process of identifying and tracking students at risk has been developed. In addition to beefing up advising strategies, retention and assessment efforts have been strengthened.

Finally, professional development opportunities for faculty and staff were expanded through the grant. A personal service committee established in 2009 helped to determine training needs in customer services and professionalism across campus. A comprehensive employee orientation program is now in place, and a new employee performance appraisal process has been developed and is updated annually. Establishment of a human resource office in 2008 has helped us establish a formal structure for staffing, policy and procedure development, and compliance.

The Title III grant helped Mayville State grow stronger in many ways that were planned, but also in ways that were unintended. A grants office has been reinstated. Additional benefits include a new focus on student leadership and the addition of a nursing program on campus, as well as activities in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) and graduate coursework. The Title III grant funding was life-changing for the institution. We were very fortunate to have had this invaluable funding to invest in an even better Mayville State University.