Dateline: October 18, 2019

Athens State University is proud to announce that it has been awarded a Title III grant by the U.S. Department of Education as part of the Strengthening Institutions Program to enhance student support in the process of degree completion. The award amount for the five-year grant is $2,106,955, with the funds being utilized to ensure that the University is meeting the needs faced by students in their journey to obtain a college degree.

Title III grants help institutions of higher education become self-sufficient and expand their capacity to serve low-income students by providing funds to improve and strengthen academic quality, institutional management, and fiscal stability. Services that qualify for Title III funding include innovations designed to retain students and move them toward program completion.

Funding for Athens State’s project, “Pathways to Success – Improving Campus to Career Success,” will provide financial resources to help students succeed not only at the university but also to take their skills and successfully transfer them into the workplace. As an upper-division institution serving transfer students, Athens State students come from colleges all over the state to complete their degrees. They face unique challenges, and the University will now be able to offer additional services as students work to achieve their goal of a baccalaureate degree.

The “Pathways to Success” project focuses on a three-pronged approach, including proactive advising, increasing the diversity and inclusion of campus, and expanding professional development on the campus, including work-based learning opportunities. At the core of these efforts is offering two free classes to all undergraduate students beginning in the spring of 2020; the new courses will provide skills relevant to both personal and professional success through the exploration of various real-world, pertinent topics.

The first free course will consist of a “Pathways to Success” seminar that is designed to provide students with the tools they need to succeed during their college career – writing, team skills, awareness of diversity and inclusion issues, financial literacy, and cross-cultural communication.  Additionally, given the long-term impacts of student debt, the University will offer educational resources to students about the importance of financial literacy. Strong skills related to finances will benefit students’ life decisions going forward and further enable them for success.

The second free course is a Career Capstone seminar. According to a study done by the National Association of Colleges and Employers in 2018, employers cite a significant gap between employers’ and graduates’ perceptions of career readiness. Therefore, Athens State is focusing efforts around career preparation, including the expansion of students who take part in work-based learning opportunities while providing all students with specific career path and skills training.

Through all of these efforts, Athens State students will graduate faster and be better prepared for their careers.

“Athens State University has a distinguished history of providing the necessary academic programs and support services to meet the diverse needs faced by our student body,” stated Dr. Philip Way, Athens State University President. “Having recently arrived on campus, I am continually impressed by the work our faculty and staff put into making our students feel at home and be successful. This grant will allow us to expand our efforts to foster degree completion and successful entry into and advancement in well-paying careers.”

“The Board of Trustees at Athens State University is laser-focused as it relates to achieving our mission as a completion college for the diverse group of students we serve in the North Alabama region,” added Mr. Ronnie Chronister, Chair of the Athens State University Board of Trustees. “This grant enhances our ability to provide a higher level of service to our students, and we would like to thank Senator Richard Shelby, Senator Doug Jones, and Congressman Mo Brooks for their support.”