LAS funds projects to advance student success

Elise McCarren

The College of Liberal Arts & Sciences has awarded funding to three teams of faculty and staff to advance innovative ideas that aim to improve student experiences, from incorporating one-on-one mentorship with teaching to offering Illinois undergrads and incarcerated individuals the opportunity to learn together.

One of the teams awarded funding includes chemistry instructional faculty member Elise McCarren, who is director of the Chemistry Merit Program. The other team members are Lily Arias (integrative biology), Jennifer McNeilly (mathematics), and Alejandra Stenger (molecular and cellular biology)

Their team received funding to continue a pilot project launched last year through the LAS Merit Programs. The project supports the success and retention of underrepresented, first-generation, and rural LAS STEM majors. Their efforts include implementing a second eight-week fall course and a semester-long spring course that include both a majors-based mentoring network and professional development for LAS Merit students and sponsorship of paid experiential learning for LAS Merit students, including research, teaching, and other laboratory experiences.

Earlier this year, the college issued a call for LAS Student Success Innovation proposals. Funding was granted for ideas that will lead to innovative and inclusive curricula and/or pedagogy, take advantage of new technologies and lessons from the pandemic to enhance ways of learning, create and support diverse student experiences, increase access and opportunities for historically underserved students, and address the recruitment and retention of first-generation students and historically underrepresented ethnic and racial minority students. Projects were eligible for up to $100,000 in funding for one year.

“Our college is committed to educating and empowering today’s diverse student body for success,” said Venetria K. Patton, Harry E. Preble Dean of the College of LAS. “I’m proud of LAS faculty and staff for developing these innovative and resourceful projects to support our students’ needs.”

Read the College of LAS announcement to learn about the other two proposals that also received funding.

By Trish Barker