Federal Strengthening Institutions Program awards Madonna $2 million

By Peg Krollpfeiffer


Madonna University has received a $2 million Title III grant through the federal Strengthening Institutions Program. The grant will be paid over the next five years to focus on the extent and quality of student-faculty interaction.

While many companies are laying off employees, Madonna will have the opportunity to create new positions to build a better support system for the students.

“This is an exciting time when you think of the economic downtime in Michigan,” said Jim O’Neill, Titlle III Project Director and Professor of the Psychology Department. As a first step, Francis FitzGerald’s (picture at right) position as Writing Center Coordinator has been extended from a part-time to a full-time position.

In addition, Madonna created five new positions that will be filled in 2009 and 2010. A coordinator for returning learners will be hired to attend the specific needs of Metropolitan Detroit students and adult learners more effectively.

A new IT position will help create a Web portal for students to provide access to services such as advising and other support. A Madonna exclusive social networking site is also part of the Web portal project. A new position to focus on student success and student persistence, an academic advisor, and an institutional researcher who will be responsible for the improvement of data collection complete the new hire plan.

All of the position postings can be accessed on the Madonna Web site and the Human Resources blackboard to promote hiring from within the institution.

“Providing students additional tools to ensure their successful degree completion is a win-win situation for students and for the University,” said Ernest Nolan, Vice President for Academic Administration.

The provision of professional development in advising for faculty and staff is part of the improvements, as well as stipends for summer advising plan, an improved interactive video technologies (ITV) system at Madonna’s outreach center in Orchard Lake, and new business intelligence software will be among the tools that are financed with the Title III grant.

“This grant is large enough to make a positive impact for everybody,” said O’Neill. Some impact from these actions is expected to show results in the short-term.

Increased student satisfaction with advising and with the level of faculty-student interactions, improved faculty and staff advising skills, an improved MU information system and enhanced decision-making related to enrollment and fiscal management are expected outcomes.

“With this grant, we can help students to become more successful,” said O’Neill. It is the goal to increase the graduation rate among targeted groups by 10 percent over the next five years and also to increase the retention rate by at least 2 percent per academic year and 10 percent over the next five years.

According to the U.S. Department of Education, the program helps eligible IHEs to become self-sufficient and expand their capacity to serve low-income students by providing funds to improve and strengthen the academic quality, institutional management, and fiscal stability of eligible institutions.