$1.75 Million Department of Education Grant Strengthens Sterling College

Release Date: 
January 25, 2010

Sterling College announced it has completed a multifaceted 5-year enhancement effort made possible by a $1,754,675 U.S. Department of Education "Strengthening Institutions" development grant.
The grant funding, provided in annual amounts between 2004 and 2009, allowed Sterling College to institute a variety of upgrades and enhancements, including new campus technology, curriculum enhancements, faculty and staff professional development, student support resources, endowment enrichment and academic collaborations.
"Sterling College owes our heartfelt appreciation to the U.S. Department of Education for providing this wonderful infusion of funding, and to the many faculty and staff members of Sterling who tirelessly implemented the many enhancements the grant enabled for our college and our students," said Dr. Paul J. Maurer, Sterling College president. "The result is a better, stronger Sterling College - an educational institution better poised to grow and contribute to the expanding needs of our student population, now and well into the future."
The Strengthening Institutions grant, part of the Title III Higher Education Act of 1965, is designed to help higher education institutions improve their programs, which assist in placing higher qualified individuals in the work force, according to Dr. Ken Brown, director of the Strengthening Institutions program and Sterling College's vice president for innovation and technology.
"The Title III grant helps eligible institutions of higher learning to become self-sufficient and expand their capacity to serve students by providing funds to improve and strengthen academic quality and institutional management," Brown said. "The funding from the U.S Department of Education was very welcome, and we used it to upgrade technology, endowment reserves, curriculum, faculty training and other programs, all of which tangibly impact Sterling College's students and provide a better educational experience for them."
Programs and additions resulting from Sterling College's Title III grant include:
• Technology Upgrades - The grant allowed purchase of hardware, software and peripheral equipment to enhance the teaching and learning process. A variety of projects demonstrate the innovative integration and use of these technologies. For example, Education students receive technology integration skills and instruction through the revision and enhancements of the "Computers in the Classroom" course. ePortfolios are in use by students in several departments, with plans to expand to all departments. Dozens of hybrid (online and classroom) courses are delivered to Sterling students by trained faculty. One hybrid course featured a pilot test of wireless handheld devices by faculty and students. Annual technology assessments and technology development plans for all full-time faculty assess and improve skills within many areas of technology use and integration.
• Curriculum Enhancements - Sterling College reviewed and revised curricula within nearly a dozen departments. The college's Education department received full accreditation through the National Council for Accreditation of Teacher Education (NCATE), the professional accrediting organization for U.S. schools, colleges and departments of education. Sterling also extensively studied college resources and determined steps for the future authorization for a post-baccalaureate (master's) degree. A master's in Education is one graduate degree being considered as a possible first addition. Work is ongoing to determine the best path and timing for instituting the graduate program.
• Teacher Endowment Challenge - Sterling raised $125,000, paired with matching Title III funds, toward the creation of a $250,000 endowment for Education department scholarships. The matching challenge required Sterling to raise up to $25,000 each year for five years, which was placed in a permanent endowment and matched dollar-for-dollar with Title III funds.
• Academic Support Center (ASC) - The ASC provides tutors and a computer lab for student use. It also provides services for students needing academic accommodations defined in an individualized education plan. The center also serves the college at-large with student placement testing and academic advising for students who have academic restrictions. A separate Writing Center is available to help students with written assignments and remedial writing strategies.
• Leadership Focuses - The grant allowed Sterling to strengthen and infuse its two distinct leadership areas - Social Entrepreneurship and Servant Leadership - into all college programs. The Social Entrepreneurship academic minor enables students to learn about servant leadership via the development and management of not-for-profit endeavors intended to meet social needs - for example, a for-profit whose profits support a social enterprise or a nonprofit whose mission has spun off in the form of another social enterprise. The Social Entrepreneurship minor requires a practicum experience during which a student works alongside the leadership of a social enterprise to gain hands-on knowledge. A "Foundations of Servant Leadership" course, required for all first-time students, compares leadership from a Christ-centered perspective with profit-centered leadership. Students experience serving by working at least eight hours in a service project. Faculty members have added service and servant-leadersh