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Edward St. John
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Michael Wilkerson
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Last modified: Monday, December 15, 2003

Indiana Project on Academic Success receives $1.2 million Lumina grant

The Indiana Project on Academic Success will use a three-year, $1.2 million grant from the Lumina Foundation for Education to study how and why students succeed in college and to further develop initiatives to improve retention and graduation rates.

"This support of the Lumina Foundation will help Indiana University and other colleges in the state improve educational opportunities for students, as we adjust to the expansion of the community college system and changes in high school graduation requirements," said Edward St. John, director of the program and professor of education at IU Bloomington.

"Because Indiana University has achieved national distinction for its work in student persistence, we are optimistic that the university has the research expertise and the practical experience to improve success for thousands of Indiana students," said Martha D. Lamkin, president of the Lumina Foundation.

Researchers will examine projects intended to enhance student success rates at all eight Indiana University campuses and several other institutions around the state. Working collaboratively with faculty at participating campuses, innovative research methods developed by St. John will be used to determine if and how well the programs work for students who participate in them. That knowledge will then be applied to strengthening or changing programs to enhance collegiate success.

"Indiana has been a leader among states in expansion of higher education access in the 1990s. As we move ahead with new initiatives to improve academic success of students who have the opportunity to enroll, we hope to improve college completion rates and contribute to economic development in Indiana," St. John said.

Stuart Green, vice chancellor for academic affairs at Indiana University's Kokomo campus and a participant in the planning process, said the grant will allow IU to examine and address the complex issues that cause some students to abandon their academic careers.

"To transform our programs in meaningful ways, we need to use the research to explore the more nuanced reasons academic and co-curricular experiences positively or negatively affect different student populations," Green said.

IU Vice President for Institutional Development and Student Affairs Charlie Nelms said the study will ascertain whether, how and why retention programs work.

"Ed St. John and IPAS will greatly enhance what we know about these programs and will, by the end of the project's three years, leave us not only a wealth of new research but a readily usable plan for action that will enable us to help Indiana's students to have their best chance of graduating," Nelms said.

The project will begin this month and will run through 2006. IU's campuses and central administration will provide human and in-kind resources to match the Lumina grant funds.