University receives millions in grant money

Students may notice subtle changes on campus, thanks to the work of the Title III Grant from the United States Department of Education.

The Title III Grant is a $2 million dollar five-year endowment, designed to help universities reach out to students who would normally be beyond their influence. For John Brown University, those students are non-traditional online learners.

Wendy MacColl, the new project director for Title III, calls the work she has been doing “exciting.” The project has been in motion for two years, but it is now making visible progress.

“A lot of the things for degree completion end up serving the [traditional] students,” MacColl said.

Though the project mostly benefits online students, it has also increased the bandwidth on campus and added lecture-capture software, which helps caption lectures for hearing-impaired students.

The grant also allowed the University to buy a Blackboard Mobile app for the entire institution, as well as create the Online Writing Center, which can be accessed through EagleNet.

The majority of Title III’s funding is going toward building small computer labs in Rodgers, Fort Smith, and Little Rock exclusively for nontraditional students, and creating two new online degree programs.

The Bachelor of Science in Business Administration is now in its second year, thanks to Title III. The other new degree program, Bachelor of Science in General Studies, is still in development, awaiting approval by University curriculum committees.

MacColl sees the grant’s work as a way of extending the University’s mission of educating head, heart, and hand.

Michael Orf, activity director for Title III, is looking forward to seeing the University take a step toward modern educational practices.

“If you want to survive, you need to keep up, but you don’t want to lose your identity in the process,” said Orf.

Orf, who was just hired last week, expressed pleasure in seeing the University’s mission go online to reach out to more people.

Orf hopes that through the grant, “we will design a program that benefits as many students as possible, without losing the touch John Brown is known for.”