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UCM Hires Expert in Student Support to Lead Student Success Initiatives Under Title III Strengthening Institutions Grant

By Jeff Murphy, February 28, 2019

Shaunte Montgomery


WARRENSBURG, MO – Following the award of the $2.7 million Strengthening Institutions Grant (SIP) received in the fall of 2018, UCM has appointed Shaunte Montgomery as Title III Project Manager and Director of First Year Programs. In this role, Montgomery directly oversees student success programs for at-risk students and will direct the coordination of a first-year experience at UCM.

“I am most excited to get in on the ground floor and help build these programs with campus partners,” Montgomery said’ “My goal is to help make these programs truly transformational for students.”

Since receiving the SIP Grant beginning Oct. 1, 2018, UCM has established a number of key initiatives that will be supported under Montgomery’s direction. In addition to a comprehensive first-year experience, these initiatives include introducing Central Summer Academy - a bridge program designed for incoming freshmen - to help at-risk students succeed as they transition to the university.

Currently half way through the first year of the SIP Grant, UCM has established a five-year roll out plan to explore and develop different student success programs under Montgomery’s leadership. Prior to accepting this position, Montgomery served as Senior Student Services Coordinator at the University of Missouri - Kansas City, and also has served as an English faculty member at Howard University and as a Learning Specialist at Metropolitan Community College in Kansas City.

Montgomery’s appointment was announced by Chris Beggs, who became executive director of Academic Support Services on Jan. 2, 2019 after serving UCM for seven years. He provides vision, direction and leadership for the Learning Commons, TRIO-Student Support Services and UCM’s Title III grant.

The SIP helps eligible institutions become self-sufficient and expand their capacity to serve low-income students by providing funds to improve and strengthen the institution’s academic quality, institutional management, and fiscal stability. Grants are awarded through a competitive application and review process. Grant funds provide benefits for all students, but particularly enhance the university’s ability to better assist students who are first-generation, Pell eligible, low-income and racial/ethnic minorities to stay on a path to graduation.

The grant comes as the university is ramping up efforts to enhance student retention, which is now about 70 percent. The goal is to increase that to 80 percent over the next five years, according to Karen Goos, interim vice provost for enrollment management who submitted the application for Title III funding.

Hiring a program director to oversee the first-year experience program was a year-one goal, according to Goos. In addition to the summer bridge program, other goals include the redesign and development of of a pilot first-year curriculum, and to work toward providing a means to ensure that faculty and staff have training and professional development they need to implement program initiatives at the top level to help students succeed in their education at UCM. Information about such opportunities will be announced as they become available.

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