Grant boosts WCCC accessibility upgrade plans |

Grant boosts WCCC accessibility upgrade plans

Barry Reeger | Tribune-Review
Westmoreland County Community College President Tuesday Stanley reacts as she is awarded a check for the first year’s installment of a $2.25 million Title III Strengthening Institutions Grant from the The U.S. Department of Education by Cong. Tim Murphy in Founders Hall on Friday, Sept. 2, 2016 in Youngwood. The five-year grant will enable the college to expand access to online courses and create flexible online student services.

Westmoreland County Community College President Tuesday Stanley said she screamed with joy when she got the call late Wednesday that the school would receive a $2.25 million federal education grant.

“I’m so pleased,” Stanley said. “This is a leap forward for this institution.”

Stanley spoke briefly to colleagues, trustees and public officials who gathered Friday afternoon for the presentation of the grant by U.S. Rep. Tim Murphy, R-Upper St. Clair. The college will receive the $449,990 first installment of the five-year grant Oct. 1.

Although money isn’t the only resource needed to make advancements for students, “it sure feels good when you get the money,” Stanley said. “We were screaming and jumping up and down for joy.”

The Title III Strengthening Institutions grant, administered by the Department of Education, will be used to upgrade WCCC’s technology, make more courses available online and continue to train faculty to teach online classes.

The grant will fund software platforms that enable financial aid, course registration, tutoring and academic advising to be offered online and on mobile devices so students can access services at any time.

The new offerings and upgrades are part of the college’s long-term strategic plan that aims to improve student access and retention. One component of the software will alert students and college officials to how they’re doing in the first few weeks of a semester, enabling counselors to intervene and help, if needed, before it’s too late, Stanley said.

“It’s exciting to do what you’ve been dreaming of doing … in an accelerated fashion,” said Dick Dickert, chairman of the board of trustees.

Some aspects of WCCC’s plan wouldn’t have happened without the grant, while others, such as the online tutoring, would have been much more limited, Stanley said.

“Great institutions are made by great people and great leaders within them,” Murphy said. “You’ve got to be able to do (your mission) better,” and funding things like student outreach is vital to that.

Kari Andren is a Tribune-Review staff writer. Reach her at 724-850-2856.

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