The U.S. Department of Education has awarded $395,890 to the University of Maine at Augusta, according to a joint news release by U.S. Sens. Susan Collins, R-Maine, and Angus King, I-Maine.

James Conneely, who took over as UMA’s president Tuesday, said in a statement that the grant would support strategic student success initiatives.

The money will be used for “helping students build stronger connections to their academic majors, embedding student support in classes, and making student support services available through mobile devices,” he said. “We are both humbled and grateful that the Department of Education is able to support UMA’s efforts.”

Collins and King said UMA provides vital educational opportunities to both first-time and nontraditional students.

“This grant funding will bolster that tradition by expanding support for low-income students, giving more Maine students the chance to attain an education and the skills necessary to succeed in today’s global economy,” the senators said.

The money, coming through the federal agency’s Strengthening Institutions Program, is expected to create two new staff positions to help support the student success initiatives, according to Sheri Fraser, UMA’s dean of students.

The school said the initial award would be renewable for five years for a total grant of up to $1,682,568.

Fraser said one of the projects the grant will support is a robust online orientation.

“Much of the emphasis will be to provide expanded support services for online classes,” Fraser said. “We want to make sure we are providing excellent support services to our online students.”

The online orientation, Fraser said, would be interactive, engaging and visually appealing, and accessible for students with disabilities. She hopes to have it available to students later this year.

The grant application was submitted last June, and Fraser said the school was informed about the award Wednesday.

“It is terrific news, and the projects support our strategic plan and they support our students,” Fraser said. “Those are things we are all very excited about.”

The Office of the Dean of Students will manage the money and the associated projects.

Jason Pafundi — 621-5663

[email protected]

Twitter: @jasonpafundiKJ


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