Wabash College has received a $100,000 grant from Lilly Endowment Inc. as part of the Endowment’s Charting the Future for Indiana’s Colleges and Universities, a new initiative.
“The legacy of Lilly Endowment touches the people, places, and programs on our campus every day, and our many partnerships allow us to provide an elite and life-changing education to young men from Indiana and around the world,” said Wabash President Gregory D. Hess.
Through the initiative, Lilly Endowment is helping Indiana colleges and universities address their key challenges and take advantage of promising opportunities to enhance their relevance and sustainability. The phase one planning grant will help Wabash develop and expand student success and retention efforts.
Last May, Wabash achieved the highest four-year graduation rate in the history of the College, demonstrating that student attrition is not inevitable. The planning grant will allow Wabash to review successful strategies and collaborate with other institutions to build on best practices to ensure student success for historically underserved groups.
The planning grant will also be used to identify aspects of the College’s innovative summer bridge program for underserved students, the Wabash Liberal Arts Immersion Program (WLAIP), that can be scaled up to have a greater impact on even more students. WLAIP serves students with at least two of the three demographic factors on which the College is focused: students of color, Pell Grant recipients, and first-generation students. In the Class of 2019, WLAIP students achieved a four-year graduation rate of 80%, which was higher than the overall student population and much higher than the expected graduation rate for young men with this demography.
“The opportunity to develop a plan to boldly expand our efforts to a larger pool of students is critically important for Wabash College,” President Hess said.
Recent data on students at Indiana private colleges show that approximately one-third of entering students do not graduate in six years (150% of expected time to degree). Results for Indiana’s state’s public colleges and universities are even worse.
Low graduation rates, when coupled with a looming “enrollment cliff” — because of low birth rates since the great recession — are stalling the lives and careers of young people and driving up costs of higher education.
“All colleges in Indiana must improve student success,” said President Hess. “Retaining and graduating our students at higher rates will allow campuses to operate at their full capacity and reduce the large and growing costs associated with student recruitment. It is the right thing to do for students and the right way to strengthen our institutions.”
“We are impressed with the dedication of Indiana’s higher education leaders to face head on their challenges and embrace their opportunities to build brighter futures for their students and colleges and universities,” said Ted Maple, Lilly Endowment’s vice president for education.
“Wabash College is deeply grateful for the enduring support that Lilly Endowment has provided to higher education in our state and in particular for its impact on Wabash College,” added President Hess.