East Camden, AR (08/10/2021) -- Southern Arkansas Univerity Tech (SAUT) is pleased to announce the award of $1,070,483 for the improvement of technology and training for faculty. In fall 2020, SAU Tech applied for the US Department of Education's Fund for the Improvement of Post Secondary Education. The grant competition was funded through the first round of the federal CARES Act through a discretionary grant competition-Institutional Resilience and Expanded Postsecondary Opportunity Grant Competition (IREPO). The funds were directed towards colleges that met the following criteria:
Provide Dual Enrollment Opportunities to Students Who Live or Attend School in a Rural Community or Opportunity Zone:
Are led by, or include as partners, Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs), Tribal Colleges, minority-serving institutions (MSIs), and/or developing institutions that are eligible to participate in Title III or Title V programs; and/or
Are committed to developing more resilient instructional delivery models, such as distance learning, that make learning possible even when students cannot be physically present on campus for any reason.
SAU Tech was one of two colleges in Arkansas to be awarded the IREPO funding and the only one to be awarded over $1 million. The project will provide for the upgrade of streaming technology for all of the college's classrooms and training funds for faculty to become QM certified online instructors. the grant also includes funds for improvements to the college's email systems, wifi access, and technology for student use.
SAU Tech's Chancellor, Dr. Jason Morrison, stated that "This is an amazing opportunity for SAU Tech to become the center of online learning and virtual instruction in South Arkansas. As our partners in the community work towards improving broadband access to rural areas, we will be able to deliver instruction live to our online students. No longer will something like a pandemic threaten to take education away from those who already struggle with limited resources. This project is really an opportunity for the future of higher education in our state to progress to the next level and for the citizens of Arkansas to benefit."
The grant project is already underway with planning meetings taking place on the campus this week. The project director is Dr. Valerie Wilson, SAU Tech's Vice Chancellor for Academics and Planning. SAU Tech's Chief Information Officer, Laura Johnson, and SAU Tech's Associate Vice Chancellor for Academics will also be responsible for working on the project. Johnson will implement the technology upgrades working with a consultant, and Eppinette will work with faculty and the department of online learning to implement software and training. Kimberly Coker, Dean for Communications & Public Relations and the college's grant writer, will assist with the implementation phase of the project along with Vice Chancellor for Finance and Administration, Gaye Manning. The project runs for two years and ends in August of 2023.