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SU Class of 2027
Salisbury University celebrated its Class of 2027 with a ceremonial photo during incoming students' first days on campus last fall. A new U.S. Department of Education grant is expected to help increase retention and success of first-year students.

Share of $4 Million USDE Grant to Increase First-Year Student Success at SU

By SU Public Relations

SALISBURY, MD---Salisbury University will receive $216,000 over the next four years to increase retention and success for first-year students, thanks to a nearly $4 million Postsecondary Student Success Grant from the U.S. Department of Education to the University System of Maryland (USM).

With its share of the grant, dubbed “Maryland’s ABCs for Student Success: Advising, Belonging and Coaching,” SU will train a corps of peer mentors to help connect students from a variety of backgrounds with pre-existing campus resources, including the University’s Academic Advising Center, Center for Student Achievement, and Charles A. Wight Multicultural Center for Equity, Justice and Inclusion.

“This year, Salisbury University welcomed one of the largest cohorts of first-generation students in campus history,” said SU President Carolyn Ringer Lepre. “While college represents many opportunities for first-generation and first-year students, it also can present a number of challenges. The goal of this program is to provide students with mentors who not only will encourage them, but who will direct them to the many support centers SU that offers and ensure that each student has the opportunity to thrive.”

“We have some really powerful programs on our campus already” said Dr. Melissa Boog, SU associate vice president of academic affairs, who will coordinate the University’s share of the grant, citing not only Powerful Connections and TRIO Student Support Services, but school-based initiatives including Student Business Leaders in SU’s Franklin P. Perdue School of Business and Student Ambassadors in the Charles R. and Martha N. Fulton School of Liberal Arts.

“In each of those cases, they approach mentorship a little differently,” she said. “We want to learn from the good work that is already being done and scale that up to serve more underserved students on our campus.”

SU also will examine similar programs at other USM institutions, as well as schools outside the System.

“It’s really going to be a collaborative effort,” Boog said. “We’re going to come together to create a program that will bridge any gaps for new students here.”

 The grant also will support certification of SU’s academic advising staff in both appreciative and proactive advising, strengthening their ability not only to assist students facing difficulties in the classroom, but to reach out to provide guidance and support before any challenges arise. Needs will be addressed based on data-driven assessment, Boog said.

“We welcome students from diverse backgrounds, and not all of them come ready to navigate a college campus,” she said. “We want to pair them with experienced students, focusing on the retention of students who are coming to us with specific needs.”

With that goal in mind, SU officials will work out details of the new initiative in the coming months. The program is expected to support two new staff roles at SU, including a data analyst and a peer mentor coordinator.

Boog added that, though the grant funding will allow SU to initiate the program, the University hopes it will become self-sustaining in future years.

“If successful, we hope to continue the program well beyond the support that the grant affords,” she said.

Learn more about SU and opportunities to Make Tomorrow Yours at the SU website.