Lyon College gets sizable grant to help students in need

BATESVILLE, AR (KAIT) – First-year students can have a toughtime transitioning to college from high school.

Lyon College in Batesville recognized that, so it started aprogram to give freshmen a few more resources to help them succeed at school.That program is now set to grow thanks to a sizable new grant.

The college recently received a Title III grant from the U.S.Department of Education that will disperse more than $3 million over afive-year span. Administrators plan to use that money to expand support servicesfor students that might struggle with academics and much more.

The school will use the grant to expand and further developits Supplemental Instruction, or SI, program.

"It's an alternative to traditional tutoring," said Dr.Virginia Wray, the dean of the faculty and the vice president for academicservices, "where an upperclassmen who's had a freshman-level course is employedto go to the course again with the freshmen to hold one to two SI sessions aweek and to hold office hours.

"In those sessions," she added, "the goal is not to go inand re-lecture the class or say 'hey, you got questions?' No, it's to haveactivities planned that the students can do to not just master the material inthe course but to improve their studying."

The money will assist students struggling not onlyacademically, but also financially. Administrators say the grant will help thecollege create a $1.3 million scholarship endowment for low income and firstgeneration students.

"The interesting part of this grant is that it actually canbe used only if we raise matching funds, so for every one of our alumni,friends and other donors that support this scholarship endowment, it will bematched dollar for dollar essentially up to $125,000 a year," said Jon Vestal,the college's vice president for institutional advancement. "So, at the end ofthe five-year period, we plan to have a $1.3 million scholarship endowment forlow income and first generation students.

"Actually," he added, "50 percent of Lyon students are firstgeneration or low income that receive the highest amount of federal tuitiongrants to attend school, so that really is the heartbeat of who we are is tomake sure that a high-level education, a great Lyon education can be had by anystudent regardless of their background."

Administrators also hope these efforts will achieve one goal– to boost student retention rates as well as graduation rates. The Title IIIgrant will allow the school to hire a few new people to study other ways toachieve that.

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