MU receives over $2 million from Dept. of Education to support retention

MU receives over $2 million from Dept. of Education to support retention


Marymount University has received a highly competitive grant award from the U.S. Department of Education’s Strengthening Institutions Program (SIP), providing over $2 million in grant support over a five-year period to enhance the institution’s student academic support infrastructure. This funding will allow for the implementation of new High Impact Practices (HIP) aimed at improving student learning, retention and the University’s four-year graduation rate.

“The entire focus of this project is to build a strong and impactful academic infrastructure to assure all Marymount undergraduate students are successful and flourish in their academic journey,” explained Dr. Hesham El-Rewini, Provost and Senior Vice President of Academic Affairs at Marymount University. “I am proud of the hard work and dedication shown by our team of Alison Gregory, Dr. Michelle Steiner, Dr. Joseph Provenzano and Dr. Rita Wong on this important initiative.”

With the title of “Early Success Program (ESP): Increasing Student Retention from First to Third Year,” this project will be overseen by Dr. Steiner, Marymount University’s Assistant Vice President for Student Success and Director of the institution’s Student Academic Hub.

The $2.02 million in funding allocated over the next five years will be utilized through the hiring of additional academic advisors, Supplemental Instruction Leaders, subject tutors, writing consultants, peer mentors, a student success navigator/coach and a teaching coach who will work with Dr. Provenzano, Director of Instructional Design at Marymount, to support retention-driven classroom strategies and experiences. A tutoring coordinator will also train, deploy and supervise peer-to-peer learning personnel in courses with higher-than-average DFW (drop, fail, withdraw) rates.

Other measures include a summer bridge program which seeks to bridge the gap between high school preparation and college-level coursework. Funding will also go towards the usage of advanced analytic software that will improve the institution’s ability to receive early detection about students who are at risk of not persisting in college, allowing the University to intervene earlier and with more targeted intention.

“At Marymount, we are driven by our mission inspired by our Religious of the Sacred Heart of Mary founders to accept students from a wide range of backgrounds and educational experiences. Because of this, there are cases when some students arrive on campus and are underprepared for college-level work,” Dr. Steiner said. “But our Early Success Program has the singular goal of increasing retention of first-year students through to their third year of collegiate studies. By providing students with wrap-around support – faculty, staff and peers who will train and learn together to deliver retention-focused activities – we will realize this goal.”

Marymount’s current undergraduate retention rate for first-time freshmen is 74.6 percent. With this Department of Education grant award funding, the University aims to increase first to second-year overall retention to 82 percent, increase first and second-year retention for first-year students with high school GPA’s less than 3.0 to 73 percent, and increase second to third-year retention to 88 percent.